In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision, it is important to remember that the constitutionality of the individual mandate isn’t the only problem with the law. Here’s a list of Obamacare’s five most destructive impacts on America’s seniors.
- Less choice. Obamacare puts 15 unelected bureaucrats in charge of meeting a budget target in Medicare with its newly created Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). IPAB may be statutorily prohibited from directly rationing care, but that doesn’t mean it can’t ration indirectly by reducing provider payments for certain medical procedures, which can compromise physician autonomy in the delivery of care. In fact, the only way IPAB can control costs is by reducing provider payments. But cutting payments effectively rations care by limiting Medicare beneficiaries’ access to providers.
- Fewer options. Obamacare delivers a strong blow to Medicare Advantage (MA), which allows seniors to receive Medicare benefits from a private health plan of their choosing. MA is popular among seniors—about 25 percent of beneficiaries are in the program—and in 2012, premiums fell by 7 percent and enrollment increased by 10 percent. But Obamacare cuts the program by $145 billion, which, according to the Medicare Actuary, will decrease enrollment by 50 percent by 2017. Furthermore, Heritage research shows that after Obamacare is fully implemented, MA beneficiaries will lose an average of $3,714 worth of benefits per year by 2017.
- Higher taxes. In 2013, two new Obamacare taxes go into effect that will likely impact seniors: the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices and the 3.8 percent tax on unearned of investment income. Not only do seniors rely heavily on medical devices, but, as Heritage expert Bob Moffit points out, “older people have larger investments than younger people, and thus high income older persons will be more heavily impacted by the new 3.8 percent Medicare tax imposed on unearned or investment income (effective 2013).”
- Fewer doctors. In 2020, America faces a shortage of 91,500 doctors. As Moffit explains, “With the retirement of 77 million baby boomers beginning in 2011, the Medicare program will have to absorb an unprecedented demand for medical services. For the next generation of senior citizens, finding a doctor will be more difficult and waiting times for doctor appointments are likely to be longer.” Obamacare exacerbates the issue for seniors by leaving the physician payment reduction schedule on the books and introducing more cuts to provider payments, which will make it even more difficult for Medicare doctors and other providers to serve the growing Medicare population.
- Less access to care. Obamacare’s irresponsible cuts to provider payments will cause 15 percent of Medicare Part A providers to become unprofitable within the next 10 years, according to the Medicare Actuary. He explains, “Over time, a sustained reduction in payment updates, based on productivity expectations that are difficult to attain, would cause Medicare payment rates to grow more slowly than, and in a way that was unrelated to, the providers’ cost of furnishing services to beneficiaries.” As Medicare providers begin to operate at a loss, they will be unable to stay afloat, leaving seniors with less access to care.