Friday, March 4, 2011

Sebelius admits to 'double-counting' in Obamacare budget

During a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing Thursday, Republican Rep. John Shimkus asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius whether $500 billion in Medicare cuts were being used to sustain the Medicare program or to fund the new health care legislation, the Daily Caller reported.

“There is an issue here on the budget because your own actuary has said you can’t double-count,” said Shimkus. “You can’t count — they’re attacking Medicare on the CR when their bill, your law, cut $500 billion from Medicare.

“Then you’re also using the same $500 billion to what? Say your funding health care. Your own actuary says you can’t do both... What’s the $500 billion in cuts for? Preserving Medicare or funding the health-care law?

Sebelius replied: “Both.”

More at the Daily Caller


In 2010, then-House Minority Leader, John Boehner, issued a statement saying:

“Simple logic says that you can’t spend and save the same dollar – but logic doesn’t apply if you’re a Democrat in Washington. The trustees’ report confirms that Medicare’s future now rests on Washington Democrats’ accounting gimmicks and tricks, a risk America’s seniors are by no means eager to take.

"The chief Medicare actuary has already blown the whistle on the Obama administration for attempting to pass off cuts as ‘savings’ within Medicare when, in fact, the money is being used to establish a new federal entitlement and massive new bureaucracies."

In a report issued in April of 2010, the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Richard Foster, stated that: "In practice, the improved [Medicare] financing cannot be simultaneously used to finance other Federal outlays [like the coverage expansions] and to extend the trust fund, despite the appearance of this result from the respective accounting conventions ["conventions" i.e. 'GIMMICKS'].

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a little hard to get the thread of the dialogue since the Republican Congressman gives Ms. Sibelius so little time to respond and cuts her off, but she appears to be saying that reductions in the growth of the wasteful Medicare Advantage program cut the Medicare growth rate and thus extend the solvency of the fund. It is true that as an accounting matter under unified government accounting the full amount of trust fund savings cannot be counted towards the cost of funding healthreform. That is why the official CBO cost estimates for healthreform do no such thing. They don't engage in any "double counting." Even Representative Paul Ryan admits that:

So the accusation about "double counting" goes to past Democratic political rhetoric, but has nothing to do with the official cost scoring of the healthcare reform law.

Perhaps if the Congressman had given Ms. Sibelius enough time to explain that would have come out in the testimony. But getting the soundbite for use in the echo chamber was too important for that.