In one of President Obama’s Chicago Way executive edicts, he pushed through a “demonstration program” of $8 billion to pay performance “bonuses” under the Medicare Advantage insurance program. The bonuses were claimed to be incentives to improve performance; however, in fact they were targeted at average performers: out of a 5-star scale, Medicare Advantage plans that got 3.5 stars got bonuses. In such a canonical “esteem is more important than performance” reward system, a reasonable person might ask after the incentive to do better when simply meeting standard is remarkable. Moreover, the enormity of this program meant that the bonuses, in their aggregate, actually undid nearly two-thirds of the cuts in overall Medicare Advantage costs that Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act supposedly provided.
The Government Accountability Office has recommended that this waste be done away with, and the bonus program be canceled. This isn’t a lone recommendation. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent Congressional agency, also has a dim view of this administration “bonus” program. MedPAC’s view is that the bonuses are just “a mechanism to increase payments,” and Commission Chairman, Glenn Hackbarth, wrote that the bonus plan
lessens the incentive to achieve the highest level of performance
It gets better. A report released Monday by the Social Security Trust Fund’s trustees contained this bit of good news:
The Social Security retirement fund is projected to run out of money in 2035 while the Social Security disability fund is projected to run out in 2016.
Combined, the two funds will last all the way to 2033. If they run dry, payroll taxes would only cover about 75 percent of current benefits.
These failure dates are closer in than claimed last year. The program’s finances are worse, say the trustees, due to a couple of factors:
Workers are expected to work fewer hours than previously projected, even after the economy recovers.
High energy prices suppressed wages, a trend the trustees see as continuing.
Thus we see another effect of Obama’s destructive energy policy, as well of his failed economic policies generally.
But just try to rescue these entitlement programs from their failure. On the one hand, we have the Ryan Plan, which the Progressives in Congress and the Executive Office timidly snipe at from the sidelines, and on the other hand, we have the Progressives’ plan. Umm, what was their plan, again? Oh—the do-nothing Senate and the do-nothing President don’t actually have one. They just want to keep throwing money down this rathole, too.