COST OVERRUNS DEVOUR UNDER-POPULATED OBAMACARE PROGRAM
By: John Hayward
No group in recent political history has been more thoroughly vindicated than ObamaCare critics, and none more discredited than its advocates, whose every estimate of the program’s cost was either a deliberate fraud or a stunning miscalculation. Look now upon the wonder of an early ObamaCare program that only drew about a quarter of the anticipated enrollees, but swiftly went bankrupt anyway. From the New York Times:
The Obama administration said Monday that it was cutting payments to doctors and hospitals after finding that cost overruns are threatening to use up the money available in a health insurance program for people with cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
The administration had predicted that up to 400,000 people would enroll in the program, created by the 2010 health care law. In fact, about 135,000 have enrolled, but the cost of their claims has far exceeded White House estimates, exhausting most of the $5 billion provided by Congress.
Under a new policy issued by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, “health care facilities and providers will get paid less” for providing the same services to patients in the federal program, known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.
In most cases, payments to health care providers will be capped at Medicare rates, which are substantially less than the commercial insurance rates they have been receiving. The new policy generally prohibits doctors and hospitals from increasing charges to consumers to make up the difference.
Oh, well, that’s no problem then. We’ll just pay the providers of medicine less, and they’ll keep on pumping out the same quality and quantity of service. Our future under President Obama’s health care scheme looks bright indeed! Even though the Medicare actuary says these rate cuts will make 25 percent of all hospitals permanently unprofitable over the next 15 years or so, they’ll just keep chugging along, funded by pots of gold found at the end of rainbows. And if there do happen to be any unfortunate shortages of medicine, well, you know… death panels.
Hey, weren’t we just told a few weeks ago that cancer clinics were turning Medicare patients away due to sequester cuts?
Michael T. Keough, the executive director of the North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool, said the new policy was one of several steps taken recently by federal officials to control spending.
“They are trying to stanch the hemorrhaging,” Mr. Keough said.
The federal government notified some states last month that it was setting a ceiling on costs that would be reimbursed from June through December of this year. In effect, state officials said, the new limits shift the financial risk of the program from the federal government to those states.
“Hemorrhaging?” Does anyone remember Obama or his minions talking about “hemorraghing” when they were pushing this ridiculous program and lying about how much it would cost?
The strategy to push costs onto the states is a brilliant plan, because state governments are swimming in oceans of cash, and they love covering the bill for expensive federal mandates. That’s why it’s so silly for Republican governors like Bobby Jindal of Louisiana to worry about getting stuck with the tab for Medicaid expansion. Washington would never do something like that, right? Um… except right now. But never again. Pinky swear.
What happens when this already bankrupt temporary program ends during the full-on ObamaCare train wreck we’re speeding towards?
When the federal program for people with pre-existing conditions ends on Jan. 1, 2014, many of them are expected to go into private health plans offered through new insurance markets being established in every state. Federal and state officials worry that an influx of people with serious illnesses could destabilize these markets, leading to higher premiums for other subscribers.
For this reason, federal and state officials say, they will try to recruit large numbers of healthy young people to buy insurance. Their premiums would help pay for the care of less healthy people.
Hear that, young people? You’re going to enjoy being on the fuzzy end of the health-care redistribution lollipop! No doubt you’ll be eager to pitch in, even though many of you can’t find work in this economy, and ObamaCare is making insurance so expensive that either you – or your employers, if you’re fortunate enough to have one – may find it more cost-effective to pay the tax/penalty and escape from the system.