Conservative critic says ObamaCare not a “CLASS” act
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Published: 24-Jun-2013

OKLAHOMA CITYA federal inspector general’s report finding widespread errors in Medicare data billing and reporting has provoked varied responses from health care analysts in Oklahoma. 

Jonathan Small, fiscal policy analyst at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, pointed to Reason Foundation reports noting that the U.S. Congress estimated Medicare would cost about $12 billion by 1990.

In fact, he pointed out in an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Medicare that year cost $107 billion. That, Small asserts, captures the essence of the challenges facing the country as implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) approaches at year’s end.

Small also pointed out the ACA’s “CLASS” provisions – a public option long-term care insurance program – have not started because of what he described as “significant cost hurdles.” He pointed out the pre-existing condition insurance pools have been capped because of cost overruns. 

Small continued, “These pools have reached only a third of the projected enrollment yet have these significant cost overruns. The cost estimate for exchanges has doubled, and the cost of ObamacCare originally sold to citizens has now doubled as well. What’s worse is that this is just an audit of the provider side of the coin.”

Small added, “Oklahoma and numerous states have significant Medicaid enrollment integrity problems, where enrollees who are ineligible remain on the program because states are reluctant to robustly ensure only those enrolled have continued lawful eligibility. Illinois’ recent first attempt to do this found that two-thirds of those enrollees investigated were ineligible.”

Small concluded, “Senator Max Baucus, D-Montana, said it best, this (Obamacare) is headed for a train wreck."

OCPA, the state’s leading free market “think tank” where Small works, said in a detailed analysis that one of the best things to happen at the state Capitol this year was inaction on implementation of a key element in the ACA.

The OCPA analysis titled “The Good, The Bad the Ugly,” published in the group’s June 2013 edition, said pressure from the state’s institutional Left “has been relentless to expand Oklahoma’s reliance on a Medicaid system that is already unreliable and ultimately unsustainable. So far, Gov. Mary Fallin and state lawmakers have resisted that pressure.”  

Cautiously critical of federal health care data was Nico Gomez, CEO at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. In response to questions from CapitolBeatOK concerning the HHS IG’s report showing major errors in Medicare record-keeping, Gomez commented, “Going forward I’m glad this is being looked at, and I do think things have actually improved over the last 10 years. For our state, we support a coordinated care approach with eligible populations. We think we can do and have done a good job with our own citizens.” 

Two state physicians also interviewed by CapitolBeatOK  had sharply contrasting responses to the HHS report.

Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon – an ardent critic of “ObamaCare,” as he calls it -- was contacted via email and messages to respond to the Inspector General’s report.

At a bill signing ceremony early this month, he indicated he could offer an assessment of the Health and Human Services’ Inspector General (IG) Report.

However, in the midst of a busy out-of-state travel schedule raising money for the Republican Party, the Lawton Republican must have been too busy to answer CapitolBeatOK’s questions concerning the IG report.

You may contact Patrick B. McGuigan at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.

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