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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Washington Post -- More Catholic than the Pope

The Washington Post had a front page article yesterday which began

A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending -- one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama's proposed overhaul of the nation's health-care system -- would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.

Journalist Lori Montgomery didn't write the headline "Report: Bill would reduce senior care." The alleged basis for the inflamatory claims was the report by the chief actuary for the Medicare/Medicaid administration (CMS). This report noted scheduled future cuts in Medicare reimbursment rates and questioned whether they will actually be imposed. This is a reasonable suspicion, since restictions enacted in 1997 are waived once a year every year. It is obvious that the actual basis for the article is Republican congressional aids (probably the minority staff of Ways and Means, since I found the report itself (warning pdf) on their site).

The remarkable thing is that Montgomery and The Washington Post are more extreme than the hospitals' lobby -- The American Hospital Association. The AHA supports health care reform and has agreed to $155 billion less over ten years. HR3692 includes prospective cuts for hospitals, nursing homes and urgent care facilities of $ 282 billion. It is possible that the current dispute is over the difference (127 minus the part for nursing homes and urgent care facilities) but Montgomery doesn't mention any possibility that hospitals will accept cuts without denying care to medicare patients.

Thus she reminds me of Megan McArdle who argues that health care reform should be rejected, because it will excessively reduce pharmaceutical company profits and therefore pharmaceutical innovation. McArdle doesn't explain why PhRMA supports refrom if it is so terrible for pharmaceutical companies.

When you find your position more extreme than that of a lobby, maybe you should reconsider.

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