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Obama Admistration plays politics with Medicare Advantage by delaying cuts

Former Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi writes:

If the Obama administration expended as much creative energy saving taxpayers money as it does obscuring the costs of Obamacare, we’d probably have a program worth saving.

But from day one, the health care law has been larded with double-counting gimmickry to conceal its $1 trillion price tag. It started by measuring eight years of services against 10 years of taxes, and it has continued with an avalanche of waivers that shield friends of the White House from the cost of the very law they helped pass.

We now have another unsavory example of how government-controlled health means politicized health care.

For about 12 million Medicare beneficiaries, private insurance plans lower costs and drive up quality. If the law had been followed as written, Obamacare should have slashed the popular market-oriented Medicare Advantage program this year. The cuts are needed to divert funding to a Medicaid expansion that will provide coverage to millions of uninsured — the central case for the creation of Obamacare.

It’s no surprise that Medicare’s most market-focused program pushes down premiums and enrollment up. So rather than allow millions of enrollees in vital swing states, such as Florida, to experience a major benefit cut right before an election, the administration founded an $8.5 billion pilot program.

Read the rest of the article: Obamacare’s Newest Fraud at Reason.com.

David Hogberg also comments at the Investors Business Daily:

If it walks like a political program, and talks like a political program …

The problem is that 12 million Medicare beneficiaries, most of them seniors, are in MA plans, and cutting them could prove very unpopular. The last thing Obama needs right now is millions of angry seniors showing up at the polls in November. …

As Capital Hill has pointed out before, most of the ObamaCare cuts to Medicare are unlikely to occur because of the potent political forces that will array against them. The recent GAO report is just more evidence of that.

For more on this, see Peter Suderman’s recent posts on why the Obama Administration opposes Medicare overpayments to private insurers except when it doesn’t, and on Elizabeth Warren and the medical device tax.

Read more: The Most Expensive Demonstration Project In Medicare History.