A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Medicare"

Obamacare as Permanent Welfare

Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute
American Spectator
Thu, 2014-11-06
"President Reagan gauged the success of a welfare program by how quickly people were able to move off government assistance and into remunerative work. Yet President Obama, the White House, and their allies are measuring the success of Obamacare by how many people can be enrolled in their new government entitlement programs. The president celebrated the law’s “success” in getting seven million people enrolled in Medicaid and eight million (or so) people enrolled in exchange coverage, 87 percent of whom are receiving government subsidies for their insurance. And he hopes to lure another five million people onto Obamacare programs starting with the November 15 enrollment period. There is no expectation that participation in these government programs will be a temporary boost but rather that they will become a permanent fixture in people’s lives."

An Emerging Consensus: Medicare Advantage Is Working And Can Deliver Meaningful Reform

Thomas Miller and James Capretta
Health Affairs Blog
Thu, 2014-11-06
"Since enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, much of the attention in the policy community has been on modernizing Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service (FFS) program. Through Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), larger “bundles” of payments to fee-for-service providers for episodes of care, and tests of pay-for-performance models, the hope is that the traditional Medicare model can be remade through sheer force of bureaucratic will. The stated intent is to find a way to pay for value, not volume. These efforts may or may not bear much fruit, but, over the longer term, it’s not likely to matter much. That’s because a more important transformation of Medicare is already well underway and is occurring despite more resistance than assistance from the program’s bureaucracy. According to the 2014 Medicare Trustees’ report, enrollment in Medicare Advantage – the private plan option in Medicare — has been surging for a decade.

Medicare paid for meds after patients were dead

The Associated Press
Fri, 2014-10-31
"Call it drugs for the departed: A quirky bureaucratic rule led Medicare’s prescription drug program to pay for costly medications even after the patients were dead. That head-scratching policy is now getting a second look. A report released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general said the Medicare rule allows payment for prescriptions filled up to 32 days after a patient’s death — at odds with the program’s basic principles, not to mention common sense."

Want To Fix The "Doc Fix"? Experiment!

Yevgeniy Feyman
Forbes
Thu, 2014-10-30
"For health policy wonks, the end of the year isn’t just the holiday season. With the falling temperatures will come a renewed “doc fix” debate, as Congress deliberates on ways to avoid a scheduled double-digit (24 percent last year) cut in Medicare’s physician payments. And avoid it they will. As health economist Austin Frakt put bluntly: “Good luck getting physicians to keep Medicare patients if the payments are suddenly cut 24 percent.”"

Obamacare's Bay State Bailout

Josh Archambault
Forbes
Mon, 2014-10-27
"After the worst transition to Obamacare in the country, Massachusetts is still without a functional exchange website and just 769 people have enrolled in Obamacare-subsidized plans. To avoid accountability and political repercussions, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is about to cut two special deals with the federal government: the “Commonwealth Kickback” which grants Massachusetts the most generous taxpayer-funded premium subsidies in the entire country, while the “Bay State Bailout” gives 300,000+ MA residents “temporary” Medicaid coverage in 2014, without any verification of their eligibility. These deals are reminiscent of the controversial ACA-related “Cornhusker Kickback” and “Louisiana Purchase,” but they also can be added to the growing list of special deals cut for Massachusetts as the state struggles to transition to the ACA."

Jeanne Shaheen's Dishonest Claim That Obamacare Doesn't Cut Medicare

Avik Roy
Forbes
Wed, 2014-10-22
"In last night’s U.S. Senate debate in New Hampshire between incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D.) and challenger Scott Brown (R.), Shaheen uttered a flat-out, bald-faced lie: that Obamacare doesn’t cut Medicare spending to pay for its expansion of coverage to the uninsured. It’s a talking point that a number of Democratic Senate candidates—and their enablers in the lefty blogosphere—have been clinging to. And it’s embarrassingly dishonest."

Oregon gives up on Oracle technology, will use another state's Medicaid system

Nick Budnick, The Oregonian
Wed, 2014-10-22
"State officials have given up on trying to salvage a portion of the troubled Cover Oregon technology project, essentially abandoning all hope of getting any lasting benefit from the $240 million paid Oracle America on the health insurance exchange and related work. Instead, Oregon will look to use successful technology built by another state, and is trying to determine which one."

In Louisiana, both sides claim defense of Medicare

BILL BARROW and MELINDA DESLATTE
The Associated Press
Tue, 2014-10-21
"BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An old political standby — the future of Medicare — is emerging as the go-to issue in Louisiana's bitter Senate race as the candidates woo seniors who typically wield strong influence in midterm elections. The challenge for voters is to figure out which side, if either, is telling the whole truth about who would cut and who would protect the popular insurance program. Medicare serves more than 50 million people and accounts for about 15 percent of federal spending, with about 10,000 new beneficiaries added daily as baby boomers reach age 65. The issue is so powerful that it's cropping up in North Carolina and Iowa, too, amid a national battle for control of the Senate."

Mars and Venus on Medicaid

John Graham
Forbes
Thu, 2014-10-16
"I will be covering Medicaid Health Plans of America’s annual conference in Washington, DC from October 26 to 28. So, I thought I’d prepare for it by reviewing the research on health outcomes for patients on Medicaid. What a tangled web! According to evidence cited by Forbes opinion editor and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Avik Roy, “patients on Medicaid have the worst health outcomes of any insurance program in America – far worse that those with private insurance and, strikingly, no better than those with no insurance at all. “ On March 10, 2011, the Wall Street Journal published a column by Forbes contributor and American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow Scott Gottlieb, MD, which concluded that “Medicaid coverage is worse than no coverage at all.”"

Utah Gov Gary Herbert's Obamacare Expansion Won't Work -- And Neither Will Its Enrollees

Jonathan Ingram, Nic Horton and Josh Archambault
Forbes
Thu, 2014-10-16
"The Obama administration and liberal activists hope that Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) will be the next governor lured into Obamacare expansion on the false promise of flexibility and free money. Herbert says he is nearing the end of negotiations with the federal government and wants to call a special session for the legislature to sign off on the Obamacare expansion plan. Unfortunately, most of the details of the plan remain a mystery. He’s given a few snippets of information here and there, but has thus far not released a detailed proposal. Utah is often seen as a national leader for its values of helping individuals help themselves. Yet, Medicaid expansion undermines that very value system. Governor Herbert’s Obamacare expansion efforts are disappointing for the many unintended consequences that will follow in the state, and in light of his very strong position against Obamacare in the past.

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