This Wednesday marks the first anniversary of Obamacare. While its supporters spend the week highlighting the new law’s effects on affected groups of Americans, we will do the same. By laying out the facts on the ground and the conclusions of Heritage research from the past year, we shed light on the realities of the new law and the negative consequences it has for every American.
Today, liberals will argue that Obamacare is good for America’s seniors. The truth is that the few perks Medicare beneficiaries will experience under the new law are overshadowed by the negative consequences of the far-reaching, fundamental changes it makes to the program.
First of all, Clete DiGiovanni, M.D., and Heritage expert Robert Moffit write that Obamacare “makes statutory changes that could challenge the autonomy of physicians to treat patients as they think best, undercut the freedom of physicians to remain in private practice, and threaten the continuation of fee-for-service medicine regardless of the preferences of doctors and patients.”
The new law expands requirements that health care providers report on specified quality data or else face receive reduced payments. Moffit testified before the Senate Republican Policy Committee that this “amounts to compliance with federal quality standards” and is a “prescription for more time-consuming compliance with Medicare rules.” Furthermore, more burdensome paperwork for physicians means less time with patients.
Obamacare also seeks to reward providers for quality, not quantity, of care by paying according to value. Change to this effect is necessary, but the problem lies in the fact that value can truly be defined only by patients, not government bureaucrats. Obamacare gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services immense authority to influence patient care by compelling physicians to focus on those interventions that Washington deems best, not what is actually best for individual patients.
The new law also harms seniors’ access to care. A large portion of savings found in Medicare comes from reducing the growth rate of payments to health care providers under Medicare Part A. These cuts are so draconian that the Medicare Actuary concluded:
Providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and, absent legislative intervention, might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries). Simulation by the Actuary suggests that roughly 15 percent of Part A providers would become unprofitable within the 10-year projection period as a result of the productivity adjustments.
Moreover, liberals claim that Medicare savings will extend the solvency of the program, which faces $30.8 trillion in long-term unfunded obligations. In fact, the cuts will offset the cost of a generous new health care entitlement for the middle class and will do nothing to ensure that Medicare exists for future generations of seniors.
Finally, cuts to Medicare Advantage will negatively affect enrollees. According to Heritage expert James Capretta, “These deep cuts will force participating MA plans to raise their premiums, increase their deductibles and co-payments, and eliminate some coverage for things like preventive services that are not covered by Medicare and vision and dental care. Some plans may have to exit markets entirely because of these cuts.” The Medicare Chief Actuary estimates that enrollment in Medicare Advantage will decrease by roughly 50 percent, forcing seniors out of the popular program and back into traditional Medicare.
While liberals focus on minutiae in an attempt to sell the ever-unpopular Obamacare to the American people, a look at the bigger picture reveals that the new health care law is a disaster for seniors. To read more about how, check out the following Heritage documents:
- Obamacare: Impact on Seniors
- Obamacare and Medicare Provider Cuts: Jeopardizing Seniors’ Access
- Obamacare and Medicare Advantage Cuts: Undermining Seniors’ Coverage Options
- Doctors, Patients, and the New Medicare Provisions
- How Obamacare Empowers the Medicare Bureaucracy: What Seniors and Their Doctors Should Know