"Congressional Democrats told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday that Americans are still very confused about the health care law — including older people who worry that Obamacare will change their Medicare. Sebelius went to the Hill for another update with Democrats on Obamacare rollout."
"The change has allowed Massachusetts to raise its Medicare payout by $257 million, forcing cuts to hospitals in 40 other states. The National Rural Health Association and 20 state hospital associations in January sent a panicked letter to President Obama, noting that the Massachusetts manipulation of the program would hand that state $3.5 billion over the next 10 years at the expense of Medicare beneficiaries everywhere. They quoted Mr. Obama's former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald Berwick, admitting that 'What Massachusetts gets comes from everybody else.'"
"The power given by Congress to the Independent Payment Advisory Board is breathtaking. Congress has willingly abandoned its power to make tough spending decisions (how and where to cut) to an unaccountable board that neither the legislative branch nor the president can control. The law has also entrenched the board's decisions to an unprecedented degree."
"Cancer patients could face high costs for medications under President Barack Obama's health care law, industry analysts and advocates warn. Where you live could make a huge difference in what you'll pay."
"The top two Republicans in Congress informed President Obama on Thursday that they will refuse to fulfill their duty under the Affordable Care Act to recommend members of a new board with the power to contain Medicare spending. It’s a dramatic power-play driven by the explosive partisan politics of Obamacare and with potentially important implications for federal health care policy."
"President Obama often claims he wants to cut the budget smartly, using a "scalpel"—not a meat axe, machete, cleaver or chainsaw, to list a few of his favorite metaphors. He'll need a more inspired term to describe what he's now doing to Medicare Advantage, perhaps napalm or WMD. The Affordable Care Act drained $306 billion from this growing version of Medicare that 29% of seniors use to escape the traditional entitlement and obtain modern private insurance, but the Administration is imposing the cuts in ways that are even more harmful than the law requires."
"The Pioneer accountable care organizations have asked the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to revise quality benchmarks the ACOs have to meet to qualify for Medicare bonuses, threatening to drop out of the program otherwise. The Pioneer ACOs note 19 of 31 quality measures were set without anchoring methodology, reflecting a lack of data, according to a letter sent Feb. 25 and posted online by The Washington Post."
"But the quality measures built into ObamaCare’s ACOs aren’t working so well yet either. Indeed, last week, virtually all of the health providers that Medicare has dubbed 'Pioneer ACOs'—the program’s leaders and examples—sent a letter to Medicare officials overseeing the program in which they threatened to drop out. The reason is that the Pioneers feel that the performance and quality metrics aren’t up to snuff—and the data doesn’t yet exist to determine what the metrics should look like."
"Cuts to Medicare Advantage will disproportionately hurt poor seniors and minorities, the health insurance industry said Thursday. America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has pushed back hard against a proposed cut to private Medicare Advantage plans. The Obama administration proposed the 2 percent cut late last week."
"Though Democrats denied it during the 2012 campaign, Obamacare cut Medicare by $716 billion in order to partially fund $1.9 trillion in new entitlement spending over the next ten years. A big chunk of those Medicare cuts came from the market-oriented Medicare Advantage program. Cleverly, the Obama administration postponed the Medicare Advantage cuts until after the election, so as to persuade seniors that everything would be just fine. But the election is over."