There is no doubt in my mind that medical costs are rising in an aging population and that Medicare is quickly approaching insolvency, which would demand care rationing, delays, and denials of services. Likewise, Medicare reimbursement rates to medical professionals and facilities are declining, impacting the number of medical personnel retiring and the closure of facilities.
So what do “the people’s representatives” in Congress do?
They do the bidding of the postal unions, one of the larger special interest groups in the nation. Essentially, these miscreants, on both sides of the aisle, have created and passed H.R. 3076 – the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022.
Reform my ass!
The legislation transfers the medical costs of retired postal employees to Medicare. Newly retiring employees would be required to enroll in Medicare when eligible.
While this relieves costs at the poorly-managed, union-dominated Postal Service, it places an unnecessary burden on Medicare to the detriment of current and future Medicare recipients – hastening Medicare insolvency that is currently projected to occur sometime in 2026.
The Postal Service Reform Act cleared the House last month by 342-92 and cleared the Senate by 79-19. The Senate considered the bill as a clean bill with no amendments or needed to be returned to the House for approval before being sent to the President for his signature.
Essentially, the bill's primary purpose is to clean up the USPS balance sheet by removing payments toward health care benefits for future retirees off the agency’s balance sheets.
What does the Congressional Budget Office say…
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the move could save the postal retirement and health programs about $5.6 billion through 2031 while adding $5.5 billion in costs to Medicare during that span and probably much more in later years.
The spin… Considering the massive size of Medicare — it spent $926 billion in 2020 — the costs really don't amount to much.
RINO (Republican In Name Only) Senator Rob Portman, the sole Republican who enabled Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, explains the deal…
“And this bill also, we have found out from CBO, does not impact or increase the Part B or the Part D premiums. Again, some people have said that, it’s just not true. So we know this because one of my colleagues asked CBO these questions in a letter. Some of us were already saying this because as an example, with regard to Part A, people have been paying in their whole lives, but they’re also already eligible for Part A, so they’re not going to add to Part A. But this colleague of mine wanted to be sure and get the answer from CBO. So he asked CBO this question, ‘What is the effect of the legislation on the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund?
“Here was the answer from CBO, and I quote:
‘Most people aged 65 or older are entitled to benefits under Medicare Part A, hospital insurance, if they have worked and paid Medicare taxes for an adequate number of quarters. Nearly all Medicare eligible USPS, that’s Postal Service annuitants, are already covered because entitlement to Part A is related primarily to a person’s age and employment history. CBO estimates that the legislation’s Medicare requirement would not increase the number of people receiving benefits under Part A. Therefore, the agency estimates that HR 3076 would not result in additional spending from the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. Period.’
“No impact. My colleague also asked the CBO, ‘So what is the effect on Medicare premiums in Part B and Part D?’ The trust funds there, as you know, are funded by people paying premiums. But the question is, are the premiums going to go up in Part B and Part D? And the question really is, what is the effect on everybody. Here’s CBO’s reply:
‘Our preliminary analysis suggests that the legislation is unlikely to have an effect. CBO does not expect that Part D drug coverage premiums would change under HR 3076. Monthly premiums for Part B are set by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to finance one-quarter of the expected annual monthly Part B spending for all enrollees aged 65 or over, rounded to the nearest multiple of $0.10. To cause a change under HR 3076, the group of new enrollees would need to be large enough and their health care costs would need to be sufficiently different from the current averages to affect the average. CBO projects that under current law, Part B enrollment will increase from 64 million people in 2025, the year that HR 3076 would begin requiring certain USPS annuitants to enroll in Part B to 73 million people by 2031. CBO estimates that under the legislation, enrollment in Part B would increase by between 13,000 and 40,000 people over that period of time, or less than 0.1 percent of the program’s total enrollment. It is unlikely that an increase of that magnitude would affect the monthly Part B premiums.’
“Well, in other words, what they’re saying is it won’t affect the premiums because it’s a drop in the bucket. We’re talking about 60 or 70 million people, and we’re talking about 13,000 to 40,000 people coming into Part B. By the way, again, these people paid their HI taxes all through their careers. CBO then continued relative to Part D. This is the drug benefit. And I quote: <Source>
Of course, that is bullshit. Something like President Joe Biden or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might have said when they told Americans that the multi-trillion-dollar “Build Back Better” plan costs absolutely nothing.
Bear in mind that the CBO scores legislation based on the assumptions and parameters of the partisan legislator(s) asking the question. So we must ask what the CBO didn’t say.
Since the legislation becomes effective in 2025, the CBO scoring of cost estimates does not capture a full decade. It appears the scoring was based on five years, not the normal ten or twenty-year horizon -- times when costs increase massively, or there have been manifest tweaks to the legislation. Also not considered is the portion of the unfunded liabilities in the Postal Service Health Benefits Program (approximately $75 billion), which will be passed to Medicare in the future.
This reminds me of an old congressional joke attributed to Senate Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-IL), who allegedly said, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.”
No matter how you slice and dice the numbers, shifting costs from the Postal Service Health Benefits Program to Medicare will cost senior citizens promised quality health care in the future.
We are so screwed – and this time, it is a bi-partisan screwing.
P.S I noticed AARP, advertised as the source of “the latest political news that affects older adults, including Medicare and social security policy changes,” failed to comment on this legislation that will impact their members.