Are Overdue Reports Concealing ObamaCare Impact On Medicare?

By PETER FERRARA Posted 07/06/2010 06:04 PM ET | Investors.com

Every year, the Annual Report of the Social Security Board of Trustees comes out between mid-April and mid-May. Now it’s July, and there’s no sign of this year’s report. What is the Obama administration hiding?

The annual report includes detailed information about Social Security and its financing over the next 75 years, produced by the Office of the Actuary of the Social Security Administration.

The Congressional Budget Office reported last week in its Long Term Budget Outlook that Social Security was already running a deficit this year.  According to last year’s Social Security Trustees Report, that was not supposed to happen until 2015, with the trust fund to run out completely by 2037.

With the disastrous Obama economy, the great Social Security surplus that started in the Reagan administration is gone completely.

Every year, the federal government has been raiding the Social Security trust funds to take that annual surplus and spend it on the rest of the federal government’s runaway spending, leaving the trust funds only with IOUs backed by nothing but politicians’ promise to pay it back when it’s needed. Now even that annual surplus is gone. How soon will the trust funds run out completely now?

President Obama keeps telling us a fairy tale that he saved us from another Great Depression. But he is actually leading us into another Depression.

The National Bureau of Economic Research scores the recession as officially starting in December 2007.  Thirty-one months later, with unemployment still near 10% and the work force still declining, the NBER says it still cannot determine an official end to the recession.

The longest recession since World War II previously was 16 months, with the average being 10 months.  By next month, it will be twice as long as the previous postwar record since the latest recession started.  The markets echoed by many pundits are now suggesting a renewed double-dip downturn may be starting, with the comprehensive Obama tax rate increases next year poised to pour napalm on this developing bonfire.

How soon will the trust funds run out with this utter failure of 1930s-style Obamanomics?

The implications for Social Security aren’t what the Obama administration is hiding by delaying the annual trustees reports. Those annual reports also include information regarding Medicare over the next 75 years. What the administration is trying to hide are sweeping draconian cuts to Medicare resulting from the ObamaCare legislation, which the annual report will document.

The administration is trying to delay the report until mid-August, when it’s hoping the country will be on vacation and won’t notice. Or maybe the delay is because the White House is trying to bludgeon the chief actuaries for Medicare and Social Security into fudging the numbers.

Those chief actuaries are dedicated, career professionals who have worked their way up the bureaucracy over decades.

During the Reagan administration, the congressional Democrat majorities and the New York Times made clear to us that tampering with the work of the government’s career professionals, let alone the career number crunchers, would be grounds for impeachment.

I’m not certain the rule of law applies to this administration, where the Justice Department cites “payback time” as its reason for not prosecuting Black Panther Voting Rights Act violations.

The CBO confessed to $500 billion in Medicare cuts in the first 10 years of Obama-Care alone. Based on those calculations, the minority staff of the Senate Budget Committee estimated the Medicare cuts as $800 billion in the first 10 years of implementation and $2.9 trillion over the first 20 years of ObamaCare.  Truthful annual trustees reports would further document these cuts.

These draconian Medicare cuts are primarily how the president got his claims that ObamaCare would reduce the deficit by over $100 billion over the first 10 years, and a trillion dollars over the next 10 years.  The cuts involve slashing payments to doctors and hospitals for the medical care they provide to seniors, and decimating the private option Medicare Advantage program that close to one-fourth of seniors have chosen for their coverage because it gives them a better deal.

Such Medicare cuts would create havoc and chaos in health care for seniors. Doctors, hospitals, surgeons and specialists providing critical care to the elderly will shut down and disappear in much of the country, and others would stop serving Medicare patients. If the government is not going to pay, seniors are not going to get the medical treatment they expect.

Yes, Medicare is more than bankrupt over the long run and needs a fundamental overhaul. But the answer is not to tell seniors their guaranteed benefits will not be cut while the government refuses to pay doctors and hospitals for their care.

Nor is it to decimate Medicare Advantage, which instead should be expanded to all of Medicare. Nor is it to trash Medicare and use the money for a whole new entitlement instead, which is what ObamaCare does.

• Ferrara is director of entitlement and budget policy for the Institute for Policy Innovation, general counsel of the American Civil Rights Union and a senior policy adviser on health care to the Heartland Institute.

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