Health Care


Catholic Social Teaching and the Ryan Budget

May 11, 2012

The Reverend Thomas V. Berg and I have an article up at The Public Discourse, where we defend the Ryan Budget against the criticism from some Catholic bishops that it violates the principles of Catholic social teaching.

To his credit, Chairman Ryan — a Catholic himself — didn’t simply ignore the criticism and move on. Instead, he chose to engage his critics in a conversation by offering, in a speech delivered at Georgetown University, a detailed defense of his budget based on his understanding of what Catholic social teaching calls him to do as an elected leader in the United States Congress.

And so, for the first time in recent memory, Catholics and the broader public have an actual and potentially useful debate under way addressing what the sound and widely shared principles of Catholic social teaching have to say about the federal budget, our out-of-control national deficit, and programs for the poor.

You can find the rest of the article here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 4:10 pm
Tags: Catholicism, social justice, Paul Ryan
File As: Health Care

Obamacare Hurts Seniors

May 10, 2012

I have an article up at National Review Online debunking the claim, based on a report released by Fidelity Investments, that Obamacare will reduce health care costs for seniors:

For starters, as the Fidelity announcement indicates, the analysis conducted by the company is based only on seniors enrolled in the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program. That means it excludes seniors enrolled in the private-plan option available in Medicare, known as Medicare Advantage. Today, about 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. Excluding them from the analysis significantly distorts the findings.

In a report I prepared with Robert Book for the Heritage Foundation, we found that Obamacare will cut Medicare Advantage payment rates by an average of $3,700 per beneficiary in 2017, or 27 percent below the payment rates that would have been made without Obamacare. These cuts will translate directly into higher health-care costs for seniors. Seniors who remain in Medicare Advantage will face higher costs, because the cuts will force the plans to cut back on the benefits they offer and to charge higher cost-sharing for the services they do cover. Further, seniors who will be pushed out of Medicare Advantage and back into the traditional program will lose entirely the added benefits provided by most Medicare Advantage plans. None of this is captured in Fidelity’s analysis.

You can read the rest of the article here, and find the Fidelity study online here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 11:00 am
Tags: Obamacare, Medicare Advantage
File As: Health Care

Exposing the Medicare Double Count

May 2, 2012

Charles Blahous and I have a new column in the Wall Street Journal on how Obamacare tries to double-count certain revenue to twist its budget figures:

One of the enduring mysteries of President Obama's health law is how its spending constraints and payroll tax hikes on high earners can be used to shore up Medicare finances and at the same time pay for a massive new entitlement program. Isn't this double counting?

The short answer is: Yes, it is. You can't spend the same money twice. And so, thanks to the new health law, federal deficits and debt will be hundreds of billions of dollars higher in the next decade alone....

You can read the rest of our explanation of the Obama administration’s fiscal obfuscation here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 3:05 pm
Tags: Obamacare, Medicare, double-count
File As: Health Care

The 2009–2010 Slowdown in Health Spending

May 1, 2012

I have a new post up at The Corner on new estimates showing that 2009 and 2010 had the slowest growth rates in health spending in five decades. The obvious cause is the recession. But:

it would appear that these economic factors alone don’t fully explain the drop in spending growth, so the search is on for additional causes.

Here’s one thing we can rule out: Obamacare.

Some of the law’s advocates are trying to take credit for the slowdown in spending, claiming that the debate over Obamacare and the prospect of its “cost control” efforts becoming law were enough to force anticipatory actions that have rooted out waste and inefficiency.

This is nonsense.

Details here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 1:26 pm
Tags: Obamacare, health spending
File As: Health Care

The Medicare Trustees’ Report and the $8.1 Trillion Double Count

April 27, 2012 • I have a new post up at the Weekly Standard blog on the recently released 2012 Medicare and Social Security trustees’ reports:

The other important story with respect to Medicare’s finances isn’t covered at all in the trustees’ report.... That’s the double counting of Medicare tax hikes and spending cuts in the Obamacare legislation.

Earlier this month, Chuck Blahous, one of two public trustees for the Medicare program, brought renewed attention to this subject when he released a paper documenting the double count and quantifying its impact on the federal budget. According to Blahous, when cost estimates are adjusted to remove the effects of double counted Medicare “savings” provisions, Obamacare increases the deficit by as much as $530 billion over ten years....

You can read the rest of post here, and see the trustees’ reports here and here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 11:15 am
Tags: Medicare, double-count, Medicare Trustees
File As: Health Care

The President’s Incoherent Economic ‘Philosophy’

April 26, 2012 • I have a new article up at National Review Online on how President Obama has abandoned his original stimulus-based approach to the economy, but failed to replace it with anything resembling a coherent, positive economic philosophy:

...the president has chosen to define his “plan” (if it can be called that) mainly by saying what it isn’t: He wants it known that his approach to the economy most definitely bears no resemblance to the plan he claims his GOP adversaries favor. Indeed, the primary purpose of these speeches has quite clearly been to tear down the straw man of a plan the president says the GOP supports in the hopes that the public will look more favorably on the president’s miserable economic record.

And so we hear from the president that the GOP favors creating a “you’re-on-your-own economy,” wants to “end Medicare as we know it,” seeks to revert to “social Darwinism,” and plans to eviscerate the social safety net to pay for a tax cut for the rich. None of this is true. No matter. The president has decided that the only path to electoral victory is to become attack-dog-in-chief.

But what about the actual substance? Is there anything at all to what the president is saying?

All is answered here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 1:12 pm
Tags: President Obama, stimulus, economic philosophy
File As: Health Care

Obamacare’s Creation of Instability in Insurance Subsidies

April 26, 2012 • I have a new column up at e21 on the recent CBO study that shows the strange inequalities that will result in the health insurance options for certain families:

CBO’s analysis confirms a crucial point about ObamaCare which remains poorly understood, which is that the law creates a massive inequity in insurance subsidies for working families with low wages.... The problem is that the subsidies inside the exchanges will far exceed the tax subsidy for employer-paid premiums at the lower end of the wage scale.

However:

CBO believes that other preexisting labor laws will make it very difficult for employers to selectively dump their workers into the exchanges.... But what if CBO is wrong and employers are able to find ways around the existing rules to create a two-pronged approach to coverage, with high-wage workers staying in tax-preferred employer plans and low-wage workers migrating to the exchanges?

You can read the rest of the article here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 10:40 am
Tags: Obamacare, health exchanges, CBO
File As: Health Care

Discussing Medicare

April 25, 2012

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in a forum at the American Enterprise Institute entitled “The Future of Medicare: A Reality Check.” The session focused on the 2012 Medicare Trustees’ Report and began with a presentation from Richard Foster, the Chief Actuary of the Medicare program. I was joined on the panel by Norm Ornstein of AEI, Bob Reischauer of the Urban Institute, Gail Wilensky of Project Hope, and Wendell Primus, who is a senior advisor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (The event video can be found here).

I focused my comments on what I called the $8.1 trillion Medicare double count in Obamacare (the subject of my most recent blog post).  My remarks precipitated a mini-debate with Wendell Primus over the issue; in the video linked above, that part of the session begins at about the fifty-minute mark.

Our panel was preceded by remarks from Senators Tom Coburn and Richard Burr on their Medicare reform legislation.

posted by James C. Capretta | 5:33 pm
Tags: Medicare, double-count, Medicare Trustees, Richard Foster, Robert Resichauer, Wendell Primus
File As: Health Care

Unsubstantiated Budget Attacks, the Sequel

April 5, 2012

I have a new article up at National Review Online on the president’s volley against the Ryan budget:

In April 2011, President Obama went to George Washington University and delivered a highly publicized and very political attack on the budget plan put together by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. In that speech, the president called the Ryan plan, and especially its Medicare-reform component, an unconscionable attack on the elderly. He also accused it of being, effectively, un-American.

Fast-forward to April 2012. Congressman Ryan has again assembled a budget plan to head off national insolvency. He has again rallied his colleagues to take up this budget blueprint and pass it through the full House, despite the political risks associated with doing so. And, like night following day, the president has again delivered an incredibly partisan attack on the House’s handiwork, denouncing it with some of the most over-the-top political rhetoric ever heard in a presidential address.

In that regard, yesterday’s “address” was very similar to last year’s highly political budget speech. It was sort of like a movie sequel, trying to capture that same partisan magic that fired up his electoral base a year ago. Unfortunately for the president, his speech today was about as imaginative and interesting as most big-budget movie sequels....

Details on what President Obama got wrong in his speech here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 1:01 pm
Tags: Ryan budget, President Obama
File As: Health Care

What Now for the Supreme Court?

March 29, 2012

Over at National Review Online, I’m one of several respondents to a symposium asking the question, “Now that the oral arguments are over: What should SCOTUS do?” Here’s the beginning of my short response:

Yes, Obamacare is “unprecedented” — an unprecedented federal power grab. If allowed to stand, the law would steadily shift immense control over the entire health sector from states, employers, private companies, and individuals to federal bureaucrats. And once the big changes scheduled for implementation in 2014 are set in motion, they will be very difficult to reverse later.

The rest of the response is here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 3:26 pm
Tags: individual mandate, Supreme Court
File As: Health Care

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