A silver lining in GOP attempts to defund PPACA implementation

The Hill (CBO: Defunding healthcare law could end drug benefits) has an interesting piece suggesting that if Republicans are successful in blocking funding to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) it could mean the end of two programs that are popular with Republicans and Medicare recipients: the Medicare Part D drug benefit and Medicare Advantage –which allows Medicare recipients to enroll in private coverage. The article is based on an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

I can’t imagine it will happen that way, but if it did it would be fine with me. Here’s the scenario:

Medicare Part D is a terrible addition to Medicare, a completely unfunded handout to seniors thanks to reckless Republican-led spending under President Bush. PPACA makes Part D even more generous by closing the so-called donut hole. If there are no funds to implement the revised Part D, Medicare won’t be able to sign contracts with providers. There’s no provision to revert to the previous program so the program would have to end.

Medicare Advantage plans are a nice perk for seniors. Despite the rhetoric about private insurers being able to drive down costs, these plans are significantly more expensive than government-administered Medicare and therefore are even bigger budget busters. PPACA imposes more discipline on these plans and reduces their costs relative to traditional Medicare. Similar to Part D, it would be difficult for the government to continue the program if PPACA implementation funding is cut.

May 27, 2011

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