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How can cuts not affect Medicare?

July 13, 2012
The Journal

Much of the government's expensive public relations campaign to convince Americans the national health care law is good for us focuses on senior citizens. But just how good is the law for them, really?

If you have been watching some of the slick advertising on health care benefits for senior citizens, you may assume the government plans to spend more on that age group through the Medicare program.

Wrong. The health care law includes a $500 billion reduction in spending for Medicare. That's right: "Obamacare" will slash funding for the program on which tens of millions of older Americans rely to help them with health care.

Critics have been pointing that out since before the health care law was enacted, in 2010. But the issue has resurfaced in Washington, in part because those concerned about Medicare clients had hoped the Supreme Court would invalidate the entire statute. When the justices failed to do that, concern about the law's effect on senior citizens once again came to the fore on Capitol Hill.

One reason many conservatives in the House of Representatives want to repeal the health care law is their concern about Medicare cuts. Liberals respond that critics just don't understand. More will be done for older Americans, they insist.

Indeed, some improvements have been made. For example, the "doughnut hole" in Medicare's prescription drug benefit has been filled in. And some benefits, such as free mammograms, have been added. But rather than pay for them through Medicare, "Obamacare" requires insurers to provide such coverage "free."

There is no such thing. Someone will pay for the new benefits. In all likelihood, the very senior citizens President Barack Obama is trying to get on his side in the health care debate will pay, indirectly.

The bottom line is the bottom line. Obama and liberals in Congress must believe the majority of older Americans don't understand that slashing $500 billion in Medicare spending will affect them adversely. It will, of course - and a growing number of Americans of all ages are coming to realize that.



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