Talk about a scoop! The New York Post published a piece by Ben Sasse and Charles Hurt explaining that President Obama's Health and Human Services is spending $8.3 billion to do something to help him win reelection.
As we know, most provisions of Obamacare don't kick in until after the 2012 election. But to prepare for massive changes to the Medicare Advantage program (a very popular and more market-oriented alternative to Medicare), 12 million seniors would have to learn by the end of this year about how their health insurance program will face slashes. Presumably most seniors would be herded back into traditional Medicare.
In fact, the "open enrollment" during which seniors would be learning about how Obamacare guts their favorite program would begin ... Oct. 15.
It’s hard to imagine a bigger electoral disaster for a president than seniors in crucial states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio discovering that he’s taken away their beloved Medicare Advantage just weeks before an election.
This political ticking time bomb could become the biggest “October Surprise” in US political history.
But the administration has figured out a way to postpone this October Surprise for one year. It will spend $8 billion to temporarily restore Medicare Advantage's funds:
The money is to come from funds that Health and Human Services is allowed to use for “demonstration projects.” But to make it legal, HHS has to pretend that it’s doing an “experiment” to study the effect of this money on the insurance market.
That is, to “study” what happens when the government doesn’t change anything but merely continues a program that’s been going on for years.
Obama can temporarily prop up Medicare Advantage long enough to get re-elected by exploiting an obscure bit of federal law. Under a 1967 statute, the HHS secretary can spend money without specific approval by Congress on “experiments” directly aimed at “increasing the efficiency and economy of health services.”
Past demonstration projects have studied new medical techniques or strategies aimed at improving care or reducing costs. The point is to find ways to lower the costs of Medicare by allowing medical technocrats to make efficient decisions without interference from vested interests.
Now Obama means to turn it on its head — diverting the money to a blatantly nonexperimental purpose to serve his political needs.
The Government Accountability Office released a report this morning that shows there simply is no experiment being conducted, just money being spent. GAO recommends that HHS cancel the project.
Sasse and Hurt call for a Congressional investigation into this unprecedented misuse of taxpayer money and violation of public trust "which certainly presses the boundaries of legality and very well may breach them."
If he’s not stopped, Obama will spend $8 billion in taxpayer funds for a scheme to mask the debilitating effects on seniors of his signature piece of legislation just long enough to get himself re-elected.
Now that is some serious audacity.
Like I said, quite a scoop. It will be interesting to see what happens from here.