Shonda Werry
Guest Columnist
It’s been said that truth is the first casualty of war.  The campaign now being fought in Kansas is a political one, but facts are still collateral damage. That’s unfortunate when an issue as important to Kansans as Medicare is being debated.
Rather than confront the facts about how the Affordable Care Act has radically altered Medicare as we know it, the political spin doctors try to deflect attention from the inconvenient truth.  But you can’t sue spin doctors for malpractice.
The facts are clear and indisputable.  According to the Congressional BudgetOffice, Obamacare cuts $716 billion out of Medicare. That’s about 7.5 percent of projected Medicare spending. Every indication tells us this may well mean fewer doctors, longer waits, and less access to care.
The Kansas Health Institute reports home health care providers in Kansas expect $400 million in reduced payments over the next four years because of Obamacare cuts. According to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, there are 126 Medicare-registered home health care agencies serving approximately 24,000 patients in Kansas.
For the seniors who rely on home health care providers for in-home skilled nursing, therapies, hospice care or tasks such as housekeeping and meal preparation so they can remain in their homes instead of in a nursing facility, the Kansas Home Care Association says the cuts will be devastating.
In fact, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice says eight out of 10 Kansas home health providers are likely to face money-losing margins for Medicare services as result of Obamacare cuts and red tape. The Kansas Home Care Association says many older home health employees are retiring in the face of the cuts.
Medicare Advantage is the program hardest hit by these cuts. There are over 15.5 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage, and 13 percent of Kansas’ seniors are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan.  Even New York Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the president’s strongest allies, has said cuts would force seniors to lose doctors and pay more.
But there’s more.  Medicare reimbursement to physicians will drop below Medicaid in the coming years. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services itself says these cuts are not sustainable. Doctors were paid about 40 percent more for Medicare than Medicaid in 2010. By 2020, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement will be about equal, and by 2040 Medicare will pay about 25 percent less than Medicaid.
Obamacare transforms Medicare into Medicaid, a system that is infamous for long waits, poor service, and limited access.
Looking at the facts, you see that it’s Obamacare that would end Medicare as we know it.
Instead of addressing this inconvenient truth, politicians who support Obamacare are attacking the Health Care Compact, playing politics with Medicare and misleading Kansas seniors.
The truth is, by adopting the Health Care Compact, Kansas legislators are able to protect Kansas seniors from the coming train wreck brought about by Obamacare. Freed from rules written by Washington D.C., future Kansas legislatures will be far more responsive to seniors’ needs than federal bureaucrats, most of whom have never even been to Kansas. In contrast, Obamacare is decreasing options by canceling plans, reducing doctor payments and eliminating supplemental services.
So the next time you hear a politician talking about the Health Care Compact, ask them where they stand on Obamacare.  Don’t be surprised when they change the subject.
Shonda Werry is executive director of Competitive Governance Action, a 501(C)(4) organization committed to educating and advocating for the concept that problems should be solved by the smallest, least centralized, most local authority that may effectively address the matter. The Health Care Compact was developed with the support of Competitive Governance Action.