We've talked about how Obamacare will affect our regular health insurers and routine doctor visits, but how about how Obamacare will affect Medicare?
We've all known for a while that the future of Medicare, the program than provides health insurance to seniors, is in dire straits. What we're just finding out is that Obamacare is making it worse.
The White House's decision earlier this month to postpone part of U.S. President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform (the employer mandate that will fine businesses that don't offer employees insurance) underscores how flawed the bill is and how unprepared we are for its full roll-out.
Medicare is already feeling the impact. Faced with myriad long-term fiscal challenges, some of which are among the country's most pressing issues, Medicare's ills are merely amplified by Obamacare.
On the fast-track to bankruptcy, estimates are that Medicare's Part A trust fund, which has long-term unfunded obligations of more than $35 trillion, will be insolvent by 2026, according to Washington, D.C. think-tank The Heritage Foundation.
That means the U.S. government has made $35 trillion worth (more than double the nation's total current debt) of benefit promises to current and future seniors that aren't yet paid for.
Furthermore, that staggering amount is expected to grow as millions more Americans are eligible for coverage.
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Moreover, individuals already in the program stand to be shut out of some of the key preventive services included under the new healthcare law. And, new enrollees are apt have difficulty finding a doctor since many physicians are refusing to accept new patients.
Following are three examples of how Obamacare will affect Medicare.
Three Ways How Obamacare Will Affect Medicare
1. Sizable payment reductions will shrink access to care. The Congressional Budget Office reports Obamacare will reduce Medicare reimbursements by $716 billion over the next decade. These cuts will impact Part A providers such as hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and hospices, in addition to Medicare Advantage plans. By 2019, the CBO projects, 15% of Medicare providers will fall into the red. By 2030, the number rises to 25%. By 2050, it jumps to 40%. The result will be a reduction in seniors' accessibility to medical care. "Providers could not sustain continuing negative margins and would have to withdraw from serving Medicare beneficiaries or (if total facility margins remained positive) shift substantial portions of Medicare costs to non-Medicare, non-Medicare payers," the CBO said.
2. So-called savings are spent on other parts of the bill. While Medicare "savings" and increased Medicare payroll taxes are frequently hyped as increasing the solvency of the Part A trust fund, those "savings" are spent paying for new entitlement costs in Obamacare. "CBO has been asked whether the reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected [hospital insurance] revenues under the legislation can provide additional resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside of Medicare. Our answer is basically no," writes the CBO.
3. The death panel's profound and worrisome power. Perhaps the most ominous part of Obamacare is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Dubbed the "death panel," the board will consist of 15 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats put in place to create budget targets for Medicare. The IPAB "threatens both the Medicare program and the Constitution's separation of powers," writes The Wall Street Journal. "At a time when many Americans have been unsettled by abuses by the Internal Revenue Services and Justice Department, the introduction of a powerful and largely unaccountable board into health care merits special scrutiny."
It's time to get informed over the future of your healthcare - find out the 15 Obamacare Facts the President Doesn't Want You to Know
U.S. Government Trustees Project Medicare Fund to Be Exhausted by 2026; Social Security Bankrupt by 2033
The Heritage Foundation:
Obamacare, Health Costs and Jobs
The Wall Street Journal:
David Rivkin and Elizabeth Foley: An ObamaCare Board Answerable to No One