On Wednesday, August 23rd Congress ordered a hold in Medicare reimbursements to hospitals, doctors and a host of other providers for the last nine days of the current budget year. The government is doing this so that it can delay $5.2 billion in Medicare expenses from hitting this year’s budget and move them to next year’s. This accounting maneuver imposes real costs on medical providers – whose major concern already regards payment considerations for services rendered, and is a major reason why emergency rooms across the country are shutting down. Furthermore, the maneuver does not actually save the government any money – it’s an accounting trick intended to shield the public from the realities of the costs of the Medicare program.
If large private businesses like Wal-Mart were to delay payments to their workers and suppliers for nine days it would be excoriated in the press and on Main Street USA alike. When the government plays games like this, politicians dupe the public into thinking the problem requires more money and nary an eyebrow is raised. Lesser offenses used to ignite independence movements.
And people think nationalized health insurance is a good idea? It just ain’t so!
Addendum: Sheldom Richman covers this double standard in more detail.