Did Obama just say we’re going to have to start cutting Medicare benefits? And just as the campaign season is ramping up?
During an event at someone’s home in Columbus, Ohio today, the president was busy knocking softballs out of the park – “Hi President Obama . . . thank you for doing such a wonderful job” – when suddenly someone who runs an ophthalmology practice asked him what exactly doctors are supposed to do as Medicare increasingly gives them the finger instead of payment for services.
Obama babbled through the usual patter about how we’re going to make everything more efficient and bend the cost curve to decrease health costs – even as expensive new technologies come to market and the new health reform law increases demand for services.
He kindly and gently lamented “that Social Security has to be tweaked because the population is getting older” and “we’ve got to refresh and renew Medicare to make sure that it’s going to be there for the next generation, as well.”
But then, incredibly, he got down to business. Here’s what he said.
So we’ve made Medicare stronger just with some of the changes that we’ve already made. But you’re absolutely right that we’re going to have to keep on making these changes to continue to make it stronger. And that will affect not just Medicare; it will affect the entire health care system.
Because there’s no doctor out there who doesn’t see Medicare as the $800 gorilla. If Medicare is saying you’ve got to improve your quality and efficiency, then they will because they’ve got a lot of Medicare patients. But they also have a lot of regular patients. So hospitals, doctors, everybody starts getting more efficient as Medicare gets more efficient. The key is making sure that we’re not just cutting benefits.
Not just cutting benefits? So WE WILL BE CUTTING BENEFITS?
With the federal budget dripping with red ink and mandatory spending like that for Medicare causing much of the spillage, is it possible that the president early next year is going to lay out an adult-style budget that takes a serious stab at slicing the deficit? And not by just raising taxes?
This is good news. Because a small matter like THE FATE OF THE WORLD ECONOMY depends on the United States producing credible evidence that it is going to reduce its deficit.
And the evidence ain’t going to come from the House or Senate appropriations committees, even if Republicans are running them.
It has to come from Obama. Let the tweaking and refreshing begin.