Senator Johanns says the Obama Administration has been less than forthright about how the healthcare law will affect Medicare.
Johanns joined with 36 other senators in writing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the Administration’s Medicare Actuary, Richard Foster.
Geithner has issued optimistic assessments of how the health care overhaul will impact Medicare, stating that the new law would significantly strengthen Medicare’s financial standing and extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.
Johanns, a Republican, tells Nebraska Radio Network Geithner’s optimism didn’t ring true.
“This has been way oversold by the Administration in terms of extending the life of Medicare,” Geithner says.
Johanns is quick to point out that Foster issued a much more somber assessment. The new health care law calls for $500 billion to be shifted from Medicare to help offset the cost of implementing the law’s provisions. Foster, actuary for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, stated that the Medicare trust fund cannot be extended if the money is shifted to defray other federal expenses.
Both Geithner and Foster answered the senators, according to Johanns, who says they both cast doubt that the half a trillion dollar transfer will take place. Johanns says that will only add to the deficit problem Congress attempted to address during the debt ceiling fight. He suggested the cost of implementing the health care bill could wipe out any savings derived from the debt ceiling debate.
Johanns says the fiscal uncertainty clouding implementation of the health care law leads him to conclude that it cannot be fixed.
“I think you’ve got to start over,” Johanns says about the health care law. “I think when you really shake this all out and look at the alternatives, you need repeal the health care bill and start over.”