Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Obamacare’s Medicare Casualties

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The consequences of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to fund the troubled new healthcare law are coming to fruition. Seniors are worried, and their providers are unsure what will happen to the future of their practices. According to Velma, who works in a Virginia medical doctor’s office, the new reality they and their patients face is grim.

“The reduction in Medicare fees has already affected the practice’s bottom line, since 60% of our patients are Medicare patients. My doctors are in doubt about how long they will be able to participate in the Medicare program if the fee reductions and new strangling regulations continue–as they no doubt will.  If we do not participate in the Medicare program, we might as well close the doors.  And, who gets hurt?  The employees, the doctors, but most of all the patients.”

The effects of these cuts are real. Seniors are losing their doctors, while others are having their plans cancelled. Now, practices are weighing the costs to see if they can stay afloat. As Heritage points out, instead of making targeted cuts to reduce duplicity, the Administration took a hatchet to an already tenuous program and undermined it even more.

“According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), these cuts will decrease Medicare spending by an estimated $716 billion between 2013 and 2022.

The money is cut from hospital services, Medicare Advantage, skilled nursing services, hospice services, and other Medicare services. To be clear, the cuts do not target individual institutions or medical organizations suspected of waste, fraud, or abuse…

For example, the Medicare actuary projects that the cuts to Medicare Advantage ($156 billion over 10 years), the popular private alternative to traditional Medicare, where 27 percent of all beneficiaries are enrolled, will decrease enrollment by 50 percent by 2017. Millions of seniors will be forced to give up their current plans and go into traditional Medicare, where they will receive fewer benefits and pay higher out-of-pocket costs.”

Further, seniors will face greater barriers when attempting to access care. The Medicare actuary projects that over the next 10 years, Medicare Part A providers (i.e., hospitals and nursing homes) may stop accepting Medicare patients or 15 percent of them will become unprofitable due to the severe Obamacare cuts. If Obamacare remains on the books, the number of providers becoming unprofitable will reach 40 percent by 2050. A doubling of Medicare patients with a major reduction in the number of providers will guarantee access problems for senior citizens.”

Velma, a seasoned citizen herself, shares her own concerns as one of their physicians has already left the practice. “If my doctors retire early and close the practice, I will not be able to find another job at my age. I raised five children and have always worked and supported myself and my children. I choose to work rather than live with my children or accept government handouts. This horrendous legislation is clearly not about healthcare.”

Velma’s options are dwindling. “We are not on our knees yet but this legislation will quickly change that. The fundamental change the President vowed is unfolding in front of us.”