Since the passage of the health care law, a number of questions have arisen. Although I did not support it, the law is truly transformational. For that reason, it is important that the information available tells a complete picture of what it will mean for you, your family and our country. Three important facts:
Costs Go Up, Not Down
Under the new law, costs will approach $1 trillion over the next 10 years. Since the president signed the law, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reported that it will cost an extra $115 billion to implement—money not in its original estimate. A former CBO director warns that the new law will likely “raise, not lower, federal deficits, by $554 billion in the first 10 years.” After it was passed, we further learned from the administration’s own actuaries that it will increase, not decrease, overall health care spending. Finally, by cutting some costs, the law does extend the solvency of Medicare. However, the savings from these cuts are not put back into the Medicare program, and instead the money is used for new programs not related to seniors.
Medicare Services Are Not “Guaranteed”
The May AARP Bulletin reported that the bill includes “$390 billion in savings from Medicare over 10 years, with basic benefits protected.” The government’s official actuaries report that it cuts $575 billion from Medicare. More troublesome, they report that as a result, “[providers] might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries).” The actuaries predict that cuts to this program will force out of Medicare Advantage half of the seniors currently enjoying it. Congress can pass laws that contain feel-good phrases like “guaranteed benefits,” but if doctors and other providers no longer participate in the program, the words are meaningless.
You May Lose Access to Your Doctor of Choice
Don’t just take my word for it: I encourage you to ask your doctors whether Medicare reimbursements are fair. Ask them about the government establishing payment policies that restrict how they can treat you and what medicines they can prescribe. Even the American Medical Association acknowledges that without significant changes to Medicare payments, many doctors will no longer participate in the program. Notably, the changes advocated by doctors’ groups were not included in the new health law.
The problem with 2,000-page bills that completely overhaul our health care system is the many unintended consequences. Many of them will negatively impact seniors, small-business people, doctors and other medical professionals and the economic future of our country. Considering the impact that this law will have on seniors, it’s important for you and your family to have access to accurate information.
Eric Cantor, R-Va., is the Republican whip of the U.S. House of Representatives.