August 31, 2010

Crapo Challenges Health Care Deficit Claims

Sees trouble ahead as CBO, CMS note cost issues with present health plan

Washington, D.C. - Massive cuts for Medicare providers and doctors who treat Medicare patients are coming, warns Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, who says a letter from the Congressional Budget Office proves his point that those cuts are the only way the new health care bill can improve the national debt. Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and Health Care Subcommittee, argued throughout the health care debate that claims the legislation would reduce the deficit were bogus because the bill cuts Medicare by nearly $500 billion, raises taxes and fees by nearly the same amount and fails to address payments to doctors serving Medicare patients.

"The only way proponents of this bill were able to argue they were saving money was to cut Medicare by nearly a half-trillion dollars, raise taxes and fail to address the compensation issue for doctors," Crapo said. "I wrote the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to try and answer the question about deficit reduction. The CBO's review shows that the claims for deficit reduction are false."

Crapo said many in Congress expect physicians to drop Medicare patients if they continue to face massive payment cuts. Seniors on Medicare will react negatively once they learn that the Medicare cuts in the bill will likely result in fewer providers in the program and decreased access to care. When you add these factors together, he said, Congress will likely prevent the Medicare cuts and physician payment cuts from occurring, further exacerbating the deficit reduction issue.

A report issued this month by Medicare's own trustees backs Crapo's assertions. Rick Foster, the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said the Medicare cuts mandated in the new health care law are unrealistic, would threaten access for seniors and likely result in higher federal spending than what had been projected. His report said the savings provisions in the law were unsustainable and likely to be overridden by Congress.

Crapo stressed that his letter did not, as critics have claimed, ask for the costs of a "full repeal" of the health care bill. He wrote the letter to show the effects on the national debt, should Congress act to prevent the scheduled cuts from taking effect. He said the findings of the CBO and the Medicare trustees make clear that there are huge problems ahead for the health care legislation.