Call it Nancy Pelosi's revenge. Over six years after Obamacare was enacted into law, we're still finding left-wing policies that were cleverly concealed in the fine print.
For example, do you remember any public debate about the law's provision granting the Obama administration the authority to redefine Medicare to whatever it wanted, without Congress even passing a law? Me either! But apparently that's in there.
This outrageous power grab is accomplished through a new office created by the law, the “Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation” (CMMI).
Here's how it works.
CMMI conducts what are purportedly “pilot studies” to examine how to reduce costs. The office is granted the authority to waive virtually any part of current Medicare law in its “studies.” Then, if it concludes that its own study was a success, CMMI can force the entire Medicare program to adopt whatever it was testing.
It's lawmaking by pilot study, without anything ever passed by Congress or signed by the president, like the Constitution requires.
Now, it would be one thing if this vast power was wielded delicately. Perhaps it would be used in small, isolated ways to keep costs in check.
Surely you're joking! In typical Obama fashion, CMMI's first major “pilot study” will turn 75 percent of the country into its guinea pigs to dramatically reshape how prescription drugs are paid for.
The proposal is so aggressive that scores of lawmakers from both parties have expressed their outrage, including every senator, Republican and Democrat, on the Senate Finance Committee (on which Sen. Chuck Schumer serves).
First of all, someone needs to explain to these power-hungry lunatics that a pilot study is supposed to be conducted on a small segment of the population in order to evaluate whether a new approach works. You're not supposed to test new ideas on three-quarters of the country.
Secondly, this is more than enough evidence to show we cannot trust the Obama administration, or any future administration, with this new power, lawmaking-by-pilot-study. Congress should rescind this vast authority as quickly as possible.
As you might expect, the people who invented this clever power grab are already preparing to defend it with a quintessentially Washington tactic: by using budget rules to their advantage.
At a recent congressional hearing, lawmakers coming to terms with the immense scope of authority Obama gave himself in the health care law were shocked to find the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated (or “scored” in budget parlance) the CMMI as achieving $34 billion in future savings, even while acknowledging these savings will come from policies that aren't implemented or even invented yet.
Conveniently for Obama, this is basically the first time the CBO has ever taken projected savings from pilot programs seriously.
But now the CMMI and its allies are trying to stave off any changes to the law by arguing Congress must “pay for” the future savings of the program.
This is absurd on its face. The government's projections of its own spending are already tenuous and tend to undercount spending. But estimating savings from policies that don't exist yet is just pure guesswork.
Bending to this bureaucratic maneuver will entrench the precedent that the Obama administration gets to decide what Medicare is, not the laws that created it in the first place.
Congress should ignore this and put the bureaucracy back in it's correct, Constitutionally-ordained place: implementing the laws that Congress writes.
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