An anomaly in the complex Obama health care plan may mean that 3 million additional people could qualify for Medicare benefits when the law takes effect in 2014. According to number crunchers gauging the new system's cost for the Health and Human Services department, the glitch means that early retirees with a household income of up to $64,000 would qualify for the nearly free government health care program intended for those below the poverty line. "I don't generally comment on the pros or cons of policy, but that just doesn't make sense," Medicare chief actuary Richard Foster told the Associated Press, which equates the situation with "allowing middle-class people to qualify for food stamps."
Administration officials and Democratic lawmakers, however, deny the existence of a loophole and insist that the new measure intends to simplify existing rules. Brian Cook, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, explains how the new law will shuffle rather than simply add to the total number of Americans on Medicaid. "This simplification will stop people from falling into coverage gaps and may cause some to be newly eligible for Medicaid and others to no longer qualify," said Cook.
Republicans will surely cry foul over the situation, described by the actuary's office as "unusual." However, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee assured the AP that the federal government would have plenty of time "to review all possible cases to ensure Medicaid meets its mission of serving only the neediest Americans." The speculative wording used by the AP to describe the new discoveries reflects how protests over the new discovery may be premature.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.