Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The long arm of Obama

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 has a lot of problems. Aside from having potentially unconstitutional provisions, aside from being a fiscal catastrophe for future generations, and aside from really not being about healthcare at all, the legislation is a potential election-year nightmare for the Administration. Why?

Well, to put it simply, Obamacare is set to end Medicare Advantage programs. And those programs have been very popular among many seniors, partly because those programs give seniors access to things like vision and hearing plans, things basic Medicare coverage does not include. Somewhere along the line, the Administration realized that these changes would become apparent to seniors using Medicare Advantage just as the 2012 Elections came around. Open enrollment for Medicare in 2013 begins on October 15 of this year and seniors would immediately see--counter to what has been claimed--that their choices were pretty much gone.

And given the demographics in key swing states, this could very well affect Obama's reelection chances. As this map from Forbes shows, Medicare Advantage use is high in places like Florida, Ohio, and elsewhere:

What to do, what to do...

Luckily, a loophole was discovered by someone in the Administration. The Department of Health and Human Services has the ability to run what are termed "demonstration projects" or "pilot programs" to improve Medicare. The idea is that small-scale test runs of proposed initiatives can be used to determine if the initiatives will be beneficial and cost-effective. DHHS has only limited authority here, since--as we all know--spending money on new programs and the like requires Congressional approval: 
Medicare has conducted hundreds of tests, called pilots or demonstration projects, since the mid-1970s, but can't apply them to the entire system without congressional approval. Lawmakers have made other important changes, but pilot projects have rarely been the catalyst.  
Most of these experiments haven't been expanded because they failed a threshold test; they didn't save money or improve care. Others passed the test but were derailed by objections from hospitals, doctors and other providers -- or were caught up in political fights as control of Congress shifted. Only a handful resulted in broad health system changes. Two became permanent programs. And the biggest success – a more efficient way to pay hospitals – occurred 27 years ago.
The demonstration projects are supposed to be set up like scientific experiments, so the results can be properly analyzed. And as the Kaiser article shows, the projects rarely pan out. Still, the idea is probably sound: run a test on a proposed change or initiative using a limited group--usually a single State or even metropolitan area--and see how things pan out before committing oodles and oodles of money to it.

But the Obama Administration has utilized this authority--to conduct a test program--to spend $8 billion on...yep, you guessed it: a "demonstration project" that does nothing more than continue the Medicare Advantage program into the next year:
But the administration’s devised a way to postpone the pain one more year, getting Obama past his last election; it plans to spend $8 billion to temporarily restore Medicare Advantage funds so that seniors in key markets don’t lose their trusted insurance program in the middle of Obama’s re-election bid.
The Administration clearly lacks the guts to accept the consequences of Obamacare, to defend what has and will happen because of the legislation. And it is so dishonest as to pretend extending an extant program qualifies as an experiment, of sorts (we already know the consequences of Medicare Advantage). But really, those two issues are minor ones, here.

The real issue, the real problem, is that the Administration is consciously circumventing Congressional authority by spending significant monies on something that has not passed through Congress. It's outrageous, it really is. And it demonstrates the Administration's total disdain for the Constitution. It's an overreach of epic proportions--$8 billion worth--and requires a very hard-line response from Congress.

I suggest impeachment. The arrogant *******.

Cheers, all.


  1. I am in total agreement here in theory. The March 16 Executive Order protects him from impeachment as well as places this country under martial law at his command, as well as he has made protests against anything, illegal.

  2. It's not his first impeachable action..and I hope Americans understand that if given the opportunity of another 4 years...it DEFINITELY won't be his last.