Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kanjorski Tries To Placate Seniors With Misinformation

Standard Speaker staffer Jim Dino, a great reporter, wrote this article about Paul Kanjorski's appearance at the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce's Red Carpet Breakfast yesterday.

In the Paul Kanjorski tradition of "stretching the facts to win an election" he tries to reassure seniors that the recently passed healthcare legislation would not harm Medicare.

"I talked to a senior citizen recently, and he told me, 'Don't let them ruin Medicare,' " Kanjorski said. "The bill actually helps Medicare by closing part of the doughnut hole with prescription drugs. The bill also extends care under Medicare. Don't let anybody tell you this bill hurts Medicare.

A funny thing happened on the way to page A13 of the same newspaper. The headline reads "Seniors fear new law will hurt Medicare". The link will take you to Yahoo news since the SS choose not to publish the Associated Press article on its website.

There's no doubt that broad cuts in projected Medicare payments to insurance plans, hospitals, nursing homes and other service providers will sting. Those cuts will impact on the provision of care through more staffing cuts and less new services. Is that "extending care"?

This line is particularly telling. Obama is hoping that most will eventually conclude the plusses outweigh the minuses. Mr. President, shouldn't there be more than just hope. Or was this the part of Hope and Change you were talking about. Paul, if the President only has hope how can you state "It will".

The bill may close the donut hole in Medicare Part D but it taxes the pharmaceutical industry to pay for that provision which will ultimately be passed onto the consumer through higher premiums.

The next problem is for retirees and their prescription benefit. This article from Richard Lowry highlights the problem corporate America is facing with this new bill.

Companies began to receive a tax-free, deductible subsidy in 2003 to continue prescription-drug coverage for their retirees, a ploy to keep the firms from dumping retirees into the new government prescription-drug program. Outside experts and big employers counseled against ending the deductibility, pointing out that it would adversely affect the companies' financial statements immediately (accounting rules require that corporations note the long-term effect of the new liability right away).

These warnings got shelved under a category ensuring their brusque dismissal: Information Inconvenient to the Passage of Health-Care Reform.

Retirees will be forced to pay more for their current coverage which could amount to several hundred dollars per month as a result of the removal of the subsidy.

It is evidenced by the required SEC filings made by several large corporations including AT&T, Catepillar, and Deere & Co.

Last week, AT&T announced it will take an immediate $1 billion write-down thanks to a new tax in the health bill that will cause Caterpillar ($100 million) and Deere & Co. ($150 million), among other large employers, to do the same. The benefits consultancy Towers Watson estimates that the change may reduce corporate profits by as much as $14 billion over time.

The companies will reconsider providing prescription-drug coverage for their retirees at all. The Employee Benefit Research Institute calculates that companies could now save $1,000 per beneficiary by handing them off to the government. As many as 2 million more retirees could end up on the government program, according to James Klein of the American Benefits Council. These retirees might wonder about the truthfulness of Obama's constant promise that everyone can keep his current insurance.

The CBO estimated that the new treatment of the subsidy would generate roughly $5 billion in revenue. If companies stop taking the subsidy, that revenue disappears, while the costs of the drug program increase. A Towers Watson study stipulates that "employer plans generally provide much better protection than the standard Medicare benefit." And subsidizing those employer plans is cheaper to the government than providing the coverage itself.

Whenver Paul Kanjorski speaks the facts will always triumph over the rhetoric. Seniors will not only be paying significantly more for their helathcare; they will be forced into a government program.

It isn't enough to own the banks and the auto industry. Obamacare wants the healthcare industry too.

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