Has Obamacare Improved Medicare? - DEBATED



PRO (yes)

The White House stated the following on its webpage "Putting Americans in Control of Their Health Care" (accessed June 16, 2015):

"Your guaranteed Medicare benefits will not be cut. In addition, you will have benefits you don't have today: Preventive services like cancer screenings at no cost, and a substantial reduction in prescription drug prices if you fall into that gap in coverage known as the 'donut hole.' Over time the bill closes this coverage gap completely. And the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended for more than 12 years, making sure that the Medicare program will be there for seniors now and in years to come."




Andrea Adleman, health reporter for US News, stated the following in her Nov. 14, 2015 article "Will Obamacare Affect Medicare? Myths and Facts," available at usnews.com:

"The vast majority of seniors on Medicare will see their drug costs go down as the ACA begins to close the 'doughnut hole,' a coverage gap that forces Medicare beneficiaries to pay 100 percent of their prescription drug costs up to a certain amount. This gap is expected to be fully closed by 2020, but those who fall into the gap this year will get a 55 percent discount on certain brand-name drugs and a 35 percent discount on generic drugs until they reach the out-of-pocket limit. In 2012, roughly 3.5 million Medicare beneficiaries saved an average of $706 each, the Department of Health and Human Services reported in March. As the doughnut hole closes, the savings will increase."




The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services stated in a paper "Affordable Care Act Update: Implementing Medicare Cost Savings," available online at www.cms.gov (accessed on June 17, 2015):

"The Affordable Care Act includes a series of Medicare reforms that will generate billions of dollars in savings for Medicare and strengthen the care Medicare beneficiaries receive. The new law protects guaranteed benefits for all Medicare beneficiaries, and provides new benefits and services to seniors on Medicare that will help keep seniors healthy. The law also includes provisions that will improve the quality of care, develop and promote new models of care delivery, appropriately price services, modernize our health system, and fight waste, fraud, and abuse."




The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare stated the following in its article "How the Affordable Care Helps Seniors," available at ncpssm.org (accessed June 15, 2015):

"The ACA expanded Medicare benefits, resulting in more savings for seniors. Medicare beneficiaries will save, on average, about $5,000 over the next 10 years due to lower drug costs, free preventive services and reductions in the growth of health spending. Since passage of the ACA, more than 7.9 million people with Medicare saved over $9.9 billion on prescription drugs...

Medicare beneficiaries are eligible to receive many preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs. These include flu shots, tobacco cessation counseling, as well as no-cost screenings for cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Seniors can also get an annual wellness visit so they can talk to their doctor about any health concerns. Because of the ACA, over 37 million seniors have received at least one of these preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs in 2013."




The American Association of Retired Peoples (AARP) stated the following in its fact sheet "The Health Care Law Means You'll Get More from Your Medicare," available at aarp.org (accessed June 15, 2015):

"New protections and benefits in the health care law strengthen Medicare, protecting the benefits you've earned and providing more care from your coverage...

The health care law protects the benefits you were promised to ensure you can always get the care you need when you need it. The law also adds resources to fight fraud, scams and waste, and helps the Medicare program save money...

Medicare now covers a yearly wellness visit and preventive care at no cost to you. This includes cancer, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, immunizations, diet counseling and more."




The Commonwealth Fund stated the following in its June 2015 report written by Karen Davis, PhD, Stuart Guterman, MA, and Farhan Bandeali, MSPH,"The Affordable Care Act and Medicare: How the Law Is Changing the Program and the Challenges That Remain," available at its website:

"The ACA strengthens Medicare in a number of important ways. It:

Improves coverage and care for beneficiaries by addressing gaps in preventive care and prescription drug benefits and strengthening chronic care management.

Stimulates health care providers to innovate by emphasizing quality over quantity of care...

Perhaps the ACA's most important Medicare reform initiative is the CMMI, also known as the Innovation Center. With $10 billion in funding over 10 years, this new agency is tasked with developing, assessing, and disseminating innovations that contribute to improved outcomes, better patient care experiences, and lower costs."




CON (no)

Alyene Senger, Research Associate in the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, stated the following in her Feb. 23, 2015 article "Eight Groups Harmed by the ACA's Flawed Policies," available at heritage.org:

"To partially offset the ACA's new spending, the law contains spending cuts to Medicare that amount to $716 billion from 2013 to 2022. The Medicare Trustees have warned since the law's passage that if these cuts are implemented as the law requires, they will significantly impact seniors' access to and quality of care. For example, the law reduces payments in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, the private insurance option under Medicare, by $156 billion from 2013 to 2022. These cuts are already causing MA plans to adjust their benefit packages by restricting provider networks. The end result of course is that seniors have fewer provider options and in some cases are forced to find new doctors."




Betsy McCaughey, PhD, former Lt. Governor of New York, wrote in her Sep. 12, 2012 article "ObamaCare's Cuts to Hospitals Will Cost Seniors Their Lives," available at FoxNews.com:

"President Obama is wooing seniors with promises to protect Medicare as they've known it. On the defensive because of the $716 billion his health care law takes from Medicare, Obama assures seniors he's cutting payments to hospitals and other providers, not their benefits.

Don't be bamboozled. It's illogical to think that reducing what a hospital is paid to treat seniors won't harm their care. A mountain of scientific evidence proves the cuts will worsen the chance that an elderly patient survives a hospital stay and goes home. It's reasonable to conclude that tens of thousands of seniors will die needlessly each year.

Under ObamaCare, hospitals, hospice care, dialysis centers, and nursing homes will be paid less to care for the same number of seniors than if the health law had not been enacted. Payments to doctors will also be cut."




John Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives (R-OH), Eric Cantor, MS, US House Majority Leader (R-VA), Kevin McCarthy, MBA, US House Majority Whip (R-CA), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, MBA, US House Republican Conference Chair (R-WA), et al., stated the following in their Feb. 13, 2014 letter to President Barack Obama, available at speaker.gov:

"We write to express deep concern about the impact of the cuts imposed by your health care law on the Medicare Advantage (MA) program and the recent action by CMS to fundamentally dismantle the Medicare prescription drug program. These cuts, in addition to proposed rules issued by CMS, will force millions of American seniors to face higher health care costs or lose access to their doctor, health plan, lifesaving drugs, and the benefits they've come to rely on...

Last year, your administration began imposing deep cuts to MA resulting in seniors being told they cannot keep the benefits they had, the plan they relied on, and the doctors they trust...

Your health care law will continue to destroy the options available to our seniors unless you intervene."




The American Action Forum stated the following in an Apr. 17, 2014 publication written by Robert Book, "Medicare Advantage Cuts in the Affordable Care Act: April 2014 Update," available at the American Action Forum website:

"[A]fter a series of annual cuts, MA enrollees in the next year [2015] will face a benefits reduction of about $1,538, or 13.32 percent, below the level projected for 2015 in the pre-ACA baseline...

The overwhelming majority of Medicare Advantage enrollees will face significant benefit cuts in 2015, relative to benefit levels in 2014. This is primarily the result of ACA-mandated changes to the benchmark payment formula, and the elimination of the star rating bonus pilot program. The cuts are somewhat mitigated by changes in risk adjustment and other factors. Compared to the pre-ACA baseline, all beneficiaries are experiencing a substantial benefit reduction. The overwhelming majority of this reduction is due to ACA-mandated changes to the benchmark formulas in effect in 2010 and prior years."




Scott Gottlieb, MD, practicing physician and Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, stated the following in his Feb. 21, 2014 article "More Cuts to Medicare Benefits on the Way," available at forbes.com:

"Get ready for more cuts to private Medicare plans, and more fired doctors, as insurers are forced to cheapen provider networks, and benefits...

That's the upshot from the announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that 2015 Medicare Advantage rates will be cut as much as a whopping 8%...

Even if the final reduction falls in the 4% range, rather than 8%, you can still expect benefit cuts this fall."




Obamacare Watch, a project of the Galen Institute, stated the following on its webpage "Medicare" (accessed June 18, 2015):

"ObamaCare cuts a half-trillion dollars from Medicare over the next decade. These cuts are unsustainable and will lead to a reduction in the quality of care for seniors who rely on the program to secure access to needed medical services. The cuts in Medicare Advantage will impose steep costs on millions of Medicare beneficiaries, and will fall disproportionately on low income and minority seniors."