Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jack Kelly 8/19/12

So Jack Kelly’s column today continues his recent trend of accusing the Obama campaign of expecting the liberal media to cover for them, and the liberal media of mostly going along with them. His previous column harped on the Joe Skoptic (sp?) ad as a lie, now he is concentrating on the charge that Obama is stealing $700 billion from those who pay into Medicare as well as from the people on Medicare themselves.

But Kelly’s column has at least three problems. First of all, his suggestion that Obama is somehow going to skim the seven hundred billion off out of the payroll taxes, and lower the reimbursements to the elderly is too simple and pretty clearly inaccurate. First of all the savings come from two areas, as I understand it (maybe three, but I remember two). Part comes from reducing payments to Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage was a program started in the Bush administration, which like education vouchers for private primary/secondary schools, takes the money Medicare would use to administer and reimburse seniors healthcare. According to this source, Medicare Advantage plans cost more than the regular Medicare program by a significant amount. Kelly calls these programs popular and perhaps they are, but they are also a case of the private sector gouging the government. And the other part of the savings comes from negotiated reductions in reimbursements to hospitals, which should not affect the healthcare senior citizens receive. Yes, the savings in the Medicare program are supposed to be transferred to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare to ignoramuses). But the ACA should mean illnesses getting caught earlier, and treated more efficiently, more time on the job, fewer bankruptcies and premature deaths. That should benefit the economy as a whole, helping everyone.

Second, there is the point that apparently the Ryan budget also had some 700 billion of cuts to Medicare that Jack Kelly entirely ignores. Other parts of the Ryan budget have few details about where specific cuts were to fall. What are we to think about where Ryan’s 700 billion was to come from? Would it have been simply from the reimbursements to patients? We might never know, but although apparently neither Kelly nor Ryan is now not going to talk about that part of Ryan’s budget, the cuts were there.

The third problem that Kelly does not acknowledge, or perhaps does not understand, are the impact of the cuts in the Ryan budget to Medicaid. Anyone who does not think there is a connection between Medicare and Medicaid has not had a parent (or perhaps themselves) go into a nursing home. At least in Pennsylvania, Medicaid will not pay for nursing home care until a patient loses all assets down to a few thousand. If Paul Ryan’s budget passes, Medicaid will no longer be capable of paying the large sums of money nursing homes want (thousands a month). That is a serious issue that Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and Jack Kelly will not talk about before the election. Is that being honest to the voters?

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