Can’t the Feds Find, Like, Four Trillion Other Places to Cut First?
More Government Death Spirals -
or Ice Bergs, If You Prefer The federal government spends per annum - nearly four TRILLION dollars. Numerically, that’s: $4,000,000,000,000. The entire United States economy - the output of every single man, woman and child in the 300+ million U.S. population - is $18 trillion. That means a federal government that is allegedly, severely proscribed by our Constitution - spends more than 22% of every penny the nation creates. That is HUGE - and hugely pathetic. Of course, with those oceans of our money sloshing around, the cavalcade of spending stupidity is nigh endless. Behold but a sampling of a simple Bing search: Government Spending At Its Stupidest Here’s a List of Stupid Things the Government Spends Money On 30 Stupid Things The Government Is Spending Money On The Terrible 20: Stupid Government Programs 15 Stupid Government Programs That Will Make You Want to Vomit There are organizations dedicated entirely to documenting said stupidity. Citizens Against Government Waste releases an annual Pig Book chronicling lots of the moronity. Government research money spent is a personal nit for me to pick. The Feds dump our coin into incredibly important things like:
How long can a shrimp run on a treadmill?
Does playing FarmVille on Facebook help people to make friends and keep them?
How do you ride a bike?
I know the fate of the world hangs in the balance - awaiting the outcome of those vital studies. So when government bypasses all of this inanity, and instead dramatically cuts spending on something like Medicare - I get a little perturbed. Before we press forward - I am not ignorant. Medicare is a huge driver of our nigh $20 trillion (and counting) national debt. And the federal government has made Medicare promises - for which they have no money - to the tune of $38.6 trillion (and counting). Medicare is already a huge failure - and in fact has been since its 1966 inception. In large part because it has never paid anywhere near a reasonable rate for the goods and services it covers. Which has royally screwed up private sector health care. Because those government shorts are price-shifted to the rest of us. Every privately insured person has been subsidizing Medicare for decades - in the form of higher insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. And these government under-payments (and the ridiculous regulations, natch) have helped make Medicare a medical provider repellent: More Doctors Steer Clear of Medicare: “Fewer American doctors are treating patients enrolled in the Medicare health program for seniors, reflecting frustration with its payment rates and pushback against mounting rules, according to health experts.” Off all the possible options at Congress’ disposal to address this mess - what did our august legislative body do? Cut provider payments. Again. Natch. CMS to Slash Medicare DMEPOS Rates on July 1, 2016: “According to a CMS fact sheet announcing the July 1 rates, the cumulative cuts to DMEPOS fee schedule amounts under the fully-adjusted rates are substantial, with fees for many items reduced by 50% – 80% compared to 2015 rates….” Get that? 50%-80% cuts. That’s a lot. Home Healthcare Industry Braces for Another Medicare Cut: “A proposed $180 million drop in Medicare reimbursement may not be a surprise to home healthcare agencies-but that doesn't necessarily make it any easier to digest, industry leaders say.” Local Medical Equipment Stores Struggling with Impending Medicare Reimbursement Rate Cuts: “‘The industry is seeing business closures all over the country right now as a result of these cuts both in metropolitan and in rural areas because people have had trouble, even sustaining the January cuts,’ said CFO of Coastal Med Tech Cathy Hamilton.” Get that? These are July Medicare cuts - after January Medicare cuts. Yet again targeting, in this instance, home medical equipment providers. Which means Medicare will continue joining with Obamacare to endlessly explode our private insurance costs - and drive providers out of the business of providing. As but one example on the latter: 170 Year Danville Business Closing: “A home health care business that has operated in Danville 170 years is closing, and owner Steve Gulick says he had no choice because of changes made by the federal government… “Gulick says changes in Medicare prompted the decision to close. ‘Medicare came in during January of this year and took the top ten items we deal with Medicare - hospital beds, wheelchairs, oxygen, C-Pap Units, walkers and some other ones - and cut the reimbursement by 24-percent. “‘And then they sent out a newsletter in February and said ‘by the way, we’re going to cut reimbursement again in July by 24-percent.’ So 48-percent in the first six months of the year,’ said Gulick. ‘We’re not big enough to survive that.’’’ I can’t imagine why not. This Congress did in fact address these latest cuts to home medical equipment providers - albeit separately. The House passed House Resolution 5210 - the Senate S 2736. The problem is, Congress left town for recess - before reconciling their bills. So here’s a thought: Congress should reconvene, reconcile their bills - and collectively pass the result. Else Medicare takes another spin downward in its very own death spiral. Ain’t government medicine great?