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NCPA: Health Law Puts Seniors at Risk

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 13, 2010

Accessible, quality care for the elderly and disabled will become more difficult to find in the coming years under the new healthcare law because of draconian cuts in payments to doctors and hospitals, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free market think tank.

Here are the findings from the New Health Law Puts Seniors at Risk study:

  • Medicare payment rates will fall below the rates paid by Medicaid by the end of this decade and will fall even further behind all other payers in succeeding decades.
  • Medicaid pays about 80% of what private insurance pays today, but the payment rates will fall to two-thirds of private payment by the end of this decade and one-half of private payment by midcentury.
  • Just as Medicaid patients must often seek care at community health centers and safety net hospitals today, seniors could face similar access problems in the near future.

The financial breakdown:

  • The annual reduction in spending will reach $2,300 per beneficiary by 2020 and $3,844 per beneficiary by 2030.
  • By the time today's teenagers reach the retirement age, one-third of Medicare will effectively be gone.
  • If seniors are allowed to make up for the cuts in Medicare spending with out-of-pocket payments—something not allowed under current law—they will need to spend 10% of the average Social Security check by 2017.
  • In 2060 seniors will spend half of their Social Security income to offset the decline in Medicare spending.

Unless the law is changed, Medicare beneficiaries will be pushed into a separate healthcare system and not have the same access to care as the rest of the population, the report says.


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.