ObamaCare gets one step closer to becoming reality

The hospitals have been bought off or, depending on your viewpoint, succumbed to the best deal they could hope for.

The nation’s hospitals will give up $155 billion in future Medicare and Medicaid payments to help defray the cost of President Barack Obama’s health care plan, a concession the White House hopes will boost an overhaul effort that’s hit a roadblock in Congress.

You need to read another dozen paragraphs before you get to any details of what the opening paragraph stated.

Of the $155 billion in projected savings from hospitals, about $40 billion to $50 billion would come from reducing federal payments hospitals receive for providing care to uninsured and low-income patients, according to lobbyists. Those payments are now made through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Medicaid cuts would be apportioned by state, as 10 percent annual reductions beginning around 2015.

About $100 billion more would come from reductions in planned Medicare payments to hospitals. A small amount of savings would come from trimming the money hospitals get for preventing patients from being readmitted for additional care.

Hospitals would also get something out of the deal. They won an agreement that if the Finance Committee’s legislation includes a public health insurance plan, it would reimburse hospitals at above the rates Medicare and Medicaid pay, which hospitals have long complained are insufficient.

So the hospitals will take a Medicare/Medicaid cut which won’t start for at least five years in exchange for a promise that any new public program will more than make up the difference starting as soon as that program kicks in.

What a deal! They start getting paid off right away, and 5-6 years out they’ll suffer a cut if they haven’t gotten it undone by then.

And of course if a Republican president proposed cutting growth in the Medicare/Medicaid budget five cents it would be called “a cold-hearted attempt to force poor people and elderly to suffer and die in order to reduce taxes for the rich.”