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Health Care

What seniors need to know about Obamacare

May 25, 2010 | By Amanda J. Reinecker

As soon as 2011, America's 77 million Baby Boomers will begin to retire. All of them will require health care. Many will turn to Medicare. And the superficially appealing provisions in the President's new health care law, such as more taxpayer subsidies for the Medicare drug benefit, may further incline seniors to opt into the program.

But there's a catch, Heritage Foundation health policy analyst Bob Moffit explains:
Much of the financing over the initial 10 years is siphoned off from an estimated $575 billion in projected savings to the Medicare program. Unless Medicare savings are captured and plowed right back into the Medicare program, however, the solvency of the Medicare program will continue to weaken. The law does not provide for that.

So what does this mean for seniors and those soon to retire? Medicare Advantage Enrollment Cut in Half. Currently, about one out of every four seniors chooses the popular Medicare Advantage plan, which incorporates some market principles. But Obamacare takes Medicare Advantage funding to pay for other health benefits, forcing more seniors onto traditional Medicare. This means less choice for seniors and additional long-run costs tacked on to Medicare's current unfunded liability of $38 trillion.

Limited Access to Doctors.

For the soon-to-retire Baby Boomers, finding a doctor will be more difficult and waiting lists to see them are likely to be longer. "The American Association of Medical Colleges projects a shortage of 124,000 doctors by 2025," Moffit writes. Instead of addressing this problem, Obamacare shaves doctors' reimbursements and provides them with less incentive to treat Medicare patients.

Medicare Payment Cuts.

"Creating a real problem for seniors," Moffit explains, "the CMS Actuary estimates that roughly 15 percent of Medicare Part A providers—the part of the Medicare program that pays hospital costs—would become unprofitable within 10 years" due to reductions in hospital payment updates under the new law.

More Taxes. Obamacare's

"higher taxes on drugs (effective in 2011) and medical devices (effective in 2013) will affect seniors especially, as they are more heavily dependent on those very products." High-income older persons will be more heavily impacted by the new 3.8 percent Medicare tax imposed on unearned or investment income (effective 2013). And there's more: Obamacare will continue to phase in new taxes over the next decade.

Obamacare will affect everyone, but seniors will be among the hardest hit. The new law places far too much dependency on Medicare and Medicaid, programs that are already structurally and financially struggling. "If Congress is going to reduce Medicare and impose a hard cap on Medicare payment to restrain per capita cost growth, at the very least it ought to channel those savings right back into the program to enhance Medicare's solvency and lay the fiscal foundation for real reform," argues Moffit.

Our seniors deserve better than Obamacare.

Health Care and the Constitution

David Barton - 04/06/2010

After a year of contentious debate, it became clear that the House intended to pass the health care bill by whatever means necessary, even if it required the use of a “deem and pass” procedure whereby Members would not vote directly on the bill.

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