The one upside to the Supreme Court making the Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act optional is that it has stopped the Obama administration from trying to cut it. Senior economic adviser Gene Sperling confirmed that the administration sees taking Medicaid completely of the table as necessary to make Obamacare function; but since President Obama is still obsessed with deficit reduction, he will instead focusing on cutting Medicare. The Hill:
“We have come to believe that it is not the time to make even those savings,” Sperling said, referring to the cuts the White House had proposed. “Not when this is the critical moment in implementing the Affordable Care Act.” [...]
But the administration has decided to accept a fight over Medicare in order to protect Medicaid, Sperling said.
“It means we’re going to have to look harder for Medicare savings, and those savings may be more difficult politically because of he choices we’ve made,” Sperling said. “If you decide you are going to protect Medicaid more, it means you’re going to have to make some tough choices in other places.”
Given that our health care system is bloate,d it would be possible to cut Medicare spending without hurting beneficiaries, but there seems to be little interest in Washington for doing that. Instead, everyone seems to be only focused on “tough choices,” i.e. looking tough by making older people poorer regardless of how little it would change overall spending.
It is important to know the score going into what will likely be the next deficit fight around when the sequestration cuts are set to begin. Medicaid is safe but Obama has his sights on Medicare.
Photo by Center for American Progress Action Fund under Creative Commons license