President Barack Obama’s health care law would let several million
middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a
twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the
complex bill was signed.
The change would affect early retirees: A married
couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get
Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the
Health and Human Services department.
After initially downplaying any concern, the Obama administration said late Tuesday it would look for a fix.
Up to 3 million more people could qualify for
Medicaid in 2014 as a result of the anomaly. That’s because, in a major
change from today, most of their Social Security benefits would no
longer be counted as income for determining eligibility. It might be
compared to allowing middle-class people to qualify for food stamps.
… Former Utah governor Mike Leavitt said bringing early retirees in
will “just add fuel to the fire,” bolstering the argument from
Republican governors that some of Washington’s rules don’t make sense.
“The fact that this is being discovered now tells you, what else is
baked into this law?” said Leavitt, who served as Health and Human
Services secretary under President George H.W. Bush. “It clearly begins
to reveal that the nature of the law was to put more and more people
under eligibility for government insurance.”
The Medicare actuary’s office roughed out some examples to illustrate
how the provision would work. A married couple retiring at 62 in 2014
and receiving the maximum Social Security benefit of $23,500 apiece
could get $17,000 from other sources and still qualify for Medicaid with
a total income of $64,000. (emphasis added)
In other related news, the Obama Administration announced last Friday morning that no more new Obamacare waivers will be issued after September 22. The Administration also announced that all approvals or renewals issued by that date will be valid through the end of 2013. According to the Administration, waivers will be unnecessary beginning in 2014, when all of the main coverage and subsidy provisions in the law will take affect.
Whatever. As Michelle Malkin notes, the most likely reason for ending the waivers is the unmistakable odor of cronyism emanating from them. The last thing the Democrats need heading into an election year is another Congressional investigation. And when you combine the newly-discovered eligibility loophole for retirees with the planned elimination of Medicare Advantage funding, Mike Leavitt’s observation rings even more true. The only way to keep America’s health care system from heading off the single payer cliff is a repeal of Obamacare, and that can only be accomplished if Republicans win the White House in 2012.