The other important story with respect to Medicare’s finances isn’t covered at all in the trustees’ report, however. That’s the double counting of Medicare tax hikes and spending cuts in the Obamacare legislation.
Earlier this month, Chuck Blahous, one of two public trustees for the Medicare program, brought renewed attention to this subject when he released a paper documenting the double count and quantifying its impact on the federal budget. According to Blahous, when cost estimates are adjusted to remove the effects of double counted Medicare “savings” provisions, Obamacare increases the deficit by as much as $530 billion over ten years.
Not surprisingly, when the results of Blahous’s analysis were printed in the Washington Post, Obamacare’s apologists became completely unglued. Here was a direct assault on a prized talking point — that Obamacare will accomplish the amazing twofer of expanding coverage and also reducing future federal budget deficits. Arguments to the contrary must therefore be discredited at all costs! So, within days of the release of Blahous’s paper, Paul Krugman, Peter Orszag, Paul van de Water, and others all pounced on and denounced Blahous’s findings as being without any merit whatsoever (to put it more politely than some of them did).