Eases or Shifts? You Decide

Thu, 21 Apr 2011 11:47:57 +0000

Stories like this one in the AP by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar are much of the reason why I doubt that any forward-looking reductions in the growth of entitlement spending will ever be implemented.  Even when the reductions are part of the legislation, they are undone bureaucratically before they are implemented.  This is just the "doc fix" all over again.

Millions of seniors in popular private insurance plans offered through Medicare will be getting a reprieve from some of the most controversial cuts in President Barack Obama's health care law. In a policy shift critics see as political, the Health and Human Services department has decided to award quality bonuses to hundreds of Medicare Advantage plans rated merely average.

<!--break-->

...

The health care law itself tried to soften the impact of Medicare Advantage cuts by providing quality bonuses for highly-rated plans that received four or five stars in a government grading system.

Then, in a policy shift quietly completed this month, HHS decided to grade on the curve. Average-quality plans garnering just three or three-and-a-half stars would also get bonuses, although at a lower percentage than top-tier plans.

The title of the article is "Obama administration eases pain of Medicare cuts."  Nothing has been eased.  It has merely been shifted.  Someone else now has to endure the "pain" of financing this $6.7 billion.