From the ATR website.
Americans for Tax Reform has received the following from a Senate staffer who wishes to remain anonymous:
The Spectator blog reports on a conference call held this morning by HHS Secretary Sebelius to promote a new report regarding the health law’s impact on Medicare.
Questioned about claims by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ chief actuary that the Medicare reductions in the law “cannot be simultaneously used to finance other federal outlays and to extend the [Medicare] trust fund” solvency, Secretary Sebelius replied that:
There are two different operating methods of looking at this, and the CMS actuary in the report that you cite differs in his strategic opinion from every accounting methodology that’s used for every other program in the federal budget, that has traditionally used for Medicare. And he has a different interpretation that is not agreed upon by either the Congressional Budget Office or the OMB or traditionally in Congress.
Unfortunately for the secretary, however, the Congressional Budget Office has on numerous occasions confirmed that any claims the law will improve Medicare’s solvency revolve around notional double-counting under federal budgetary conventions.
A January CBO letter found that “the majority of the [Medicare] trust fund savings . . . would be used to pay for other spending and therefore would not enhance the ability of the government to pay for future Medicare benefits.” And in a March letter, CBO quantified the amount of that double-counting, estimating that, if the law’s Medicare savings were actually set aside to improve the solvency of the Medicare trust fund (as opposed to being used for other spending), the bill would increase the deficit by $260 billion over its first ten years alone.
In other words, the CBO agrees with the CMS actuary that the same money can’t be used twice — once to expand coverage, and a second time to extend the life of the Medicare trust fund. The secretary’s statement that “there are two different operating methods of looking at this,” and that CBO disagrees with the administration’s own actuaries on the impact of this budgetary double-counting, is demonstrably false.
Sadly, this morning’s conference call does not represent the only time the administration has been accused of presenting misleading information to seniors. The secretary’s comments come on the heels of a new TV ad campaign led by Andy Griffith to promote the healthcare law, which the non-partisan factcheck.org said used “weasel words” and made promises “just as fictional as the town of Mayberry was when Griffith played the local sheriff.”
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