New York Post writers call it President Obama’s Committee for the Re-Election of the President — a political slush fund at the Health and Human Services Department. Only this isn’t some little fund from shadowy private sources; this is taxpayer money, redirected to help Obama win another term. A massive amount of it, too — $8.3 billion. Yes, that’s billion, with a B.
Here is how it works.
The most oppressive aspects of the ObamaCare law don’t kick in until after the 2012 election, when the president will no longer be answerable to voters. More “flexibility,” he recently explained to the Russians.
But certain voters would surely notice one highly painful part of the law before then — namely, the way it guts the popular Medicare Advantage program.
For years, 12 million seniors have relied on these policies, a more market-oriented alternative to traditional Medicare, without the aggravating gaps in coverage.
But as part of its hundreds of billions in Medicare cuts, the Obama one-size-fits-all plan slashes reimbursement rates for Medicare Advantage starting next year — herding many seniors back into the government-run program.
Under federal “open-enrollment” guidelines, seniors must pick their Medicare coverage program for next year by the end of this year — which means they should be finding out before Election Day.
Nothing is more politically volatile than monkeying with the health insurance of seniors, who aren’t too keen on confusing upheavals in their health care and are the most diligent voters in the land. This could make the Tea Party look like a tea party.
Making matters even more politically dangerous for Obama is that open enrollment begins Oct. 15, less than three weeks before voters go to the polls.
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’s devised a way to postpone the pain one more year, getting Obama past his last election; it plans to spend $8 billion to temporarily restore Medicare Advantage funds so that seniors in key markets don’t lose their trusted insurance program in the middle of Obama’s re-election bid.