Reliable math, anyone?

By Joshua Hayward, Special to the BDN
Posted March 11, 2011, at 11:17 a.m.

Let’s all take a time-out on politics and focus on the financial future of our country. Like it or not we face historic financial challenges as a country. As a result we are debating what appear to be tremendously complex financial programs possessing the ability to dramatically impact millions of people with the simple stroke of a pen.

But is it really all that complex when we look at the basic math? I say no, if you can get the straight truth.

Let’s take the recent admission by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that she was ‘double counting’ the proposed $500 Billion in Medicare cuts as either preserving Medicare or funding the health-care law. Well it can’t be both and we all know this simple fact.

Yet in debates prior to ratification of the law she was clear she was not double counting.

Her assistant secretary of public affairs quickly defended this as being consistent with how healthcare legislation was scored for 30 years, under Republican and Democratic presidents and congresses. Well great – he is basically saying they did it incorrectly for 30 years and darn, it we get to do it too!

Fellow citizens, it is time we call all of this behavior from both parties to the stage for dismissal. We simply can no longer afford bad math by our politicians and their selected bureaucrats running these vast government agencies.

Honestly, I do not care what party Sebelius is from. The question to be asked is whether she understood this to be misleading math or if she simply had a different take on the numbers? In either case it heavily impacted public support for a policy that was and is under much question at this time. I side not with or against the Affordable Care Act. I side with the people who seek the correct numbers for our analysis and reasonable conclusion to support or object.

You see, many of these problems are referred to as complex. However, in many cases, they are relatively simple when we have accurate numbers to work with. In many cases it is in the best interest of politicians to let new policy be fogged by complexity, confusion and debate. The result is disinterest by the masses and an ever-costly public choice to accept what others deem good for us!

So I ask readers and fellow citizens to take interest, overcome the desire to accept, and push yourselves to face potentially painful analysis to ensure policy choices that are at least understood by the masses, for better or worse.

My economic motivation for bringing attention to our public economic considerations is not to debate whether a policy is better for one political or social ideology versus another. It is simply to debate the financial basis of such vital programs on level and accurate economic terms.

How can we just accept that double counting a $500 billion impact to one of our largest social programs in history for the benefit of perhaps the most controversial new law in history is OK?

How can anyone say, no matter your political position, the same $500 billion is used as a ‘cut’ to preserve Medicare and extend its solvency by 12 years AND it is also used as ‘source’ or ‘expenditure’ to fund the new health care law? To look for validation of this question one only needs to go online and pull up the 2010 Medicare Trustee’s Report and go to the back of the report to read the “Statement of Actuarial Opinion.”

Anyone willing to take this small step will quickly see the concern of the Medicare chief actuary. The unusualness of such dissention from a normal stamp of approval should not be underestimated.

I offer a simple solution. Take a stand and email or call both your congressperson and senator in your district. Do it. If we all do it then we can create the support for consideration.

I ask you all: Do not blindly support or object to this bold healthcare policy that so meaningfully attempts to ensure every American the benefit of health care coverage.  Engage in the debate of the correct math, know its actual economic impact and then choose your ideological stance knowing its impact.

Joshua Hayward has worked as a financial strategist for 19 years and can be heard Monday Mornings at 7 on the George Hale & Ric Tyler Show, 103.9 FM Bangor, 101.3 FM, Augusta. He can be reached at jshayward12@gmail.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/03/11/health/reliable-math-anyone/ printed on July 26, 2014