Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Final act in health care reform drama: the seniors will decide

The health care "deciders" -- America's old folks

In a post four months ago, I wrote this:

Here is my prediction: seniors are not paying much attention to this whole issue now, because they have health insurance. In all likelihood, they also don't think Obama and a Democratic Congress will monkey with their coverage. When they start to pay attention, watch out on Capitol Hill, because these folks vote. I mean, they ALL vote.

Then, in a post one month ago, I added this:

Sure enough, polls show that seniors are the major group that is least supportive of the various health care reform schemes, and the steady erosion of Obama's public approval ratings is being driven in significant part by seniors.

And that was when seniors were just skeptical but -- what with all the smoke and mirrors surrounding multiple health care bills and Obama's serial speeches -- not yet really sure that Medicare benefits were going to be cut. Now the cat is out of the bag:

Congress' chief budget officer is contradicting President Barack Obama's oft-stated claim that seniors wouldn't see their Medicare benefits cut under a health care overhaul.

The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, told senators Tuesday that seniors in Medicare's managed care plans would see reduced benefits under a bill in the Finance Committee.

The bill would cut payments to the Medicare Advantage plans by more than $100 billion over 10 years.

That's what the CBO chief had to say about just the $100 billion in cuts proposed for the popular Medicare Advantage plans. There is as much as another $400 billion in Medicate and Medicaid cuts being proposed (depending on which of the bills, which keep changing).

Folks, there is no way in hell that this Congress is going to pass a bill that relies on such huge cuts in Medicare. Only the safest Democrats could risk voting for something that will, as surely as the sun rises in the morning, rouse seniors to vote against them. The only thing worse for your reelection prospects is to cut Social Security benefits.

Mark my words: any final bill will have to be radically changed -- somehow -- to eliminate the Medicare cuts or it won't pass.

What are your thoughts? Post a comment.


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