Under ObamaCare, All Roads Run Through Medicare Benefit Cuts

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is a political committee devoted to maintaining and increasing the 239-member Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

When Democrats raided Medicare for $700 billion to pay for ObamaCare, they also empowered 15 unelected bureaucrats to make additional cuts to Medicare, with devastating consequences for seniors who rely on Medicare:

DEMOCRATS RAIDED $700 BILLION FROM MEDICARE TO PAY FOR OBAMACARE: (Douglas Elmendorf, “Letter to the Honorable John Boehner,” Congressional Budget Office, 7/24/2012)

DEMOCRATS EMPOWERED “15 SAGES” WITH “THE POWER OF THE PURSE” TO GUT MEDICARE: (Editorial Board, “The Presidential Divider,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/14/2011)

WSJ: OBAMA MEDICARE PLAN IS MEDICARE “RATIONING,” WILL “THROW GRANNY OVER THE CLIFF”: “One place to start is by attacking the Democratic plan to cut Medicare via political rationing. Mr. Ryan's budget had the virtue of embarrassing President Obama's spend-more initial budget, and the White House responded by proposing to increase the power of the new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to decide what, and how much, Medicare will pay for. The ObamaCare bill goes to great lengths to shelter this 15-member, unelected board from Congressional review, with the goal of letting these bureaucrats throw granny over the cliff if Medicare isn't reformed. Yet few Americans know anything about IPAB or its rationing intentions.” (Editorial, “The GOP’s New York Spanking,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/26/2011)

IPAB MEMBERS CAN SERVE UP TO TWELVE YEARS, OR TWO SIX YEAR TERMS, WITHOUT EVER FACING VOTERS: “Terms are for six years, and members may serve no more than two consecutive terms.” (Jack Ebeler, Tricia Neuman, and Juliette Cubanski, “The Independent Payment Advisory Board: A New Approach to Controlling Medicare Spending,” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011)

NOT A DOCTOR? DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT: “The appointment membership of the board shall include (but shall not be limited to) physicians and other health professionals, experts in the area of pharmaco-economics or prescription drug benefit programs, employers, third-party payers, individuals skilled in the conduct and interpretation of biomedical, health services, and health economics research and expertise in outcomes and effectiveness research and technology assessment. Such membership shall also include representatives of consumers and the elderly.” (p. 402, “Sec.3403. Independent [Medicare] Payment Advisory Board,” Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 5/3/2010)

DOCTORS NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO BE THE MAJORITY OF THE BOARD: “(iii) MAJORITY NONPROVIDERS.—Individuals who are directly involved in the provision or management of the delivery of items and services covered under this title shall not constitute a majority of the appointed membership of the Board.” (p. 423, Compilation of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 6/09/2010)

90% OF HOUSE DEMS VOTED AGAINST REPEALING IPAB: (Roll Call 126, Clerk of the U.S. House, 3/22/2012)

President Obama’s 2012 budget proposed making ObamaCare’s staggering Medicare cuts even bigger by giving IPAB the ability to consider, forgive the bureaucratic jargon, “value-based benefit design” (read: benefit cuts):

“OBAMA BUDGET WANTS MORE TEETH” FOR MEDICARE-GUTTING BOARD: (Phillip Klein, "Obama Budget Wants More Teeth for Medicare Board," The Washington Examiner, 2/13/2012)

OBAMA BUDGET: “GIVE IPAB ADDITIONAL TOOLS LIKE THE ABILITY TO CONSIDER VALUE-BASED BENEFIT DESIGN” (READ: BENEFIT CUTS): (“Living Within Our Means and Investing in the Future,” Office of Management and Budget, September 2011)

“VALUE-BASED BENEFIT DEISGN” WOULD ALLOW IPAB TO EFFECTIVELY RATION HEALTHCARE SERVICES, INTERFERING WITH DOCTORS’ OWN PREFERRED TREATMENTS: “Value-based benefit design may enable IPAB to more effectively target cost sharing for those services that are most likely produce positive patient outcomes while reducing payments for services with less effective outcomes, explained Cori Uccello, the senior health fellow for the American Academy of Actuaries.” (Margaret Dick Tocknell, “IPAB to Kick in Early to Ease Impact of Medicare Cuts,” Health Leaders Media, 9/21/2011)

OBAMA FY2013 BUDGET ALSO VOWS TO BOOST IPAB’S POWER: “In addition, it strengthens the Independent Payment Advisory Board to reduce long-term drivers of Medicare cost growth.” (“Department of Health and Human Services,” The White House, February 2012)

THE ROAD TO RATIONING: DEMOCRATS’ PLAN ALL ALONG:

OBAMA IN 2009: GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE “ASSESSING AND EVALUATING TREATMENT OPTIONS,” ESPECIALLY “WHEN IT COMES TO MEDICARE AND MEDICAID”: “And part of what I think government can do effectively is to be an honest broker in assessing and evaluating treatment options. And certainly that’s true when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, where the taxpayers are footing the bill and we have an obligation to get those costs under control.” (David Leonhardt, “After the Great Recession,” The New York Times, 4/28/2009)

“IT IS AN ATTEMPT TO SAY TO PATIENTS,” FACING A CHOICE BETWEEN A “RED PILL” AND A “BLUE PILL,” “YOU MIGHT WANT TO GO AHEAD AND GET THE BLUE ONE”: “So when Peter Orszag and I talk about the importance of using comparative-effectiveness studies (9) as a way of reining in costs, that’s not an attempt to micromanage the doctor-patient relationship. It is an attempt to say to patients, you know what, we’ve looked at some objective studies out here, people who know about this stuff, concluding that the blue pill, which costs half as much as the red pill, is just as effective, and you might want to go ahead and get the blue one. And if a provider is pushing the red one on you, then you should at least ask some important questions.” (David Leonhardt, “After the Great Recession,” The New York Times, 4/28/2009)

As if proposing Medicare benefit cuts to pay for ObamaCare wasn’t bad enough, Democrats also put Medicare on the path to bankruptcy in the near future, making major benefit cuts and tax increases necessary in order to keep the program afloat:

WHEN MEDICARE'S TRUSTEES PREDICTED MEDICARE'S BANKRUPTCY LAST YEAR, NANCY PELOSI CLAIMED THAT MEDICARE'S FINANCES WERE “STRONG”: ("Pelosi Statement on Report of the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees," Office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, 5/13/2011)

MEDICARE TRUSTEES SAY MEDICARE WILL GO BANKRUPT IN 2024, SAME AS LAST YEAR'S ESTIMATES: "The Medicare Trustees Report released today shows that the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is expected to remain solvent until 2024, the same as last year's estimate, but action is needed to secure its long-term future. In 2011, the HI Trust Fund expenditures were lower than expected." (Press Release, "Medicare Stable, But Requires Strengthening," Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 4/23/2012)

SENIORS COULD SUFFER 26% BENEFIT CUTS OR 47% TAX INCREASES UNDER DEMS' MEDICARE PLAN: "Lawmakers could address the long-range financial imbalance in several different ways. In theory, they could immediately increase the standard 2.90-percent payroll tax by the amount of the actuarial deficit to 4.25 percent, or they could reduce expenditures by a corresponding amount. Note, however, that these changes would require an immediate 47-percent increase in the standard tax rate or an immediate 26-percent reduction in expenditures." (p. 32-33, "2012 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds," The Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds, 4/23/2012)

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