I'm so glad that Nancy Pelosi had Congress pass the health care bill before actually reading it. Here's one of the results

ETWolverine 2011/06/23 14:33:39

Star Trinune - Minneapolis, Minnesota

Medicaid loophole found in health law

Article by: RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press, June 21, 2011

Millions of early retirees might get unintended benefits, and HHS said it's trying to rectify the problem.

WASHINGTON - President Obama's health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.

The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services Department.

After initially downplaying any concern, the Obama administration said late Tuesday that it would look for a fix.

As many as 3 million more people could qualify for Medicaid in 2014 as a result of the anomaly. That's because, in a major change from today, most of their Social Security benefits would no longer be counted as income for determining eligibility. It might be compared to allowing middle-class people to qualify for food stamps.

An actuary's nightmare

Medicare chief actuary Richard Foster said the situation keeps him up at night.

"I don't generally comment on the pros or cons of policy, but that just doesn't make sense," Foster said during a question-and-answer session at a recent professional society meeting.

"This is a situation that got no attention at all," he added. "And even now, as I raise the issue with various policymakers, people are not rushing to say ... we need to do something about this."

Administration officials said Tuesday they now see the problem. "We are concerned that, as a matter of law, some middle-income Americans may be receiving coverage through Medicaid, which is meant to serve only the neediest Americans," said Health and Human Services spokesman Richard Sorian. "We are exploring options to address this issue."

Attempt at simplification

Administration officials and senior Democratic lawmakers initially defended the change, saying it wasn't a loophole but the result of a well-meaning effort to simplify the rules for deciding who would get help under the new health care law.

Instead of a hodgepodge, there would be one national policy.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, called the situation "unacceptable" and said he intended to look into it.

Governors have been clamoring for relief from Medicaid costs, complaining that federal rules drive up spending and limit state options. Medicaid is now one of the top issues in budget negotiations between the White House and Congress. Republicans want to roll back federal requirements that block states from limiting eligibility.

Medicaid is a safety net program that serves more than 50 million vulnerable Americans.

The actuary's office said the early retirees eligible for Medicaid would be on top of an estimated 16 million to 20 million new people that Obama's law already brings into the program.

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Top Opinion

  • dave b 2011/06/23 15:04:21
    dave b
    The ObamaKare law is rotten from top to bottom. I remember Obama promising to read every bill before signing. That worked out well, didnt it?

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  • wtw 2011/07/27 04:22:21
    The single worse piece of legilsation to ever come out of congress and the worst president in our history caused it!
  • painted desert 2011/07/26 17:09:49
    painted desert
    So you have read it top to bottom?
  • ETWolve... painted... 2011/07/26 19:34:17
    Read what to the bottom? The article or the 3000-page Health Care Law?
  • painted... ETWolve... 2011/07/26 20:45:02
    painted desert
    The whole Health Care Law?
  • ETWolve... painted... 2011/07/26 21:50:18 (edited)
    Most of it. About 2900 pages or so. It's taken me quite a bit of time. Why do you ask?
  • Brianna Lee 2011/06/23 16:24:16
    Brianna Lee
    Pelosi is clueless. Too much time in San Francisco. Remember her speech repeating "the word, the word, the word"? How this woman gets re-elected is beyond insane. I don't think any state is going to pay attention to the HCB. It is riddled with inconsistent rules and of course special exceptions for the Obama fans. I don't think any of it is going to be law.
  • dave b 2011/06/23 15:04:21
    dave b
    The ObamaKare law is rotten from top to bottom. I remember Obama promising to read every bill before signing. That worked out well, didnt it?
  • ETWolve... dave b 2011/06/23 15:08:02
    "When we pass the bill, we'll know what's in it."

    Probably the most telling statement ever made by Nancy Pelosi. And this is the result.
  • Brianna... dave b 2011/06/23 16:16:12
    Brianna Lee
    What promise has Obama kept?
  • dave b Brianna... 2011/06/23 16:26:23
    dave b
    To fundamentally change America. Hes f'd it up, alright.
  • ETWolverine 2011/06/23 14:36:06
    This is what becomes of passing 3,000-page laws without actually reading them. This is what is known as the "Law of Unintended Consequences" at work.

    What other little bits of "unexpected" consequences are awaiting us as the Health Care Law comes into practice. What other unexpected costs are waiting to bite us on the ass as we move forward with this law?
  • JoeBtfsplk 2011/06/23 14:35:12

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