Lower Costs, Less Care in 2012, Says CMS

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(Baltimore, MD) – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will release a new report claiming the overall rate of health expenditures remained low for the fourth consecutive year.  For many, the devil is in the details of what the definition of “low” is.

“An annual rate of 3.7% in 2012 translates to slower growth than the economy as a whole,” said a CMS spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity.  “And we’re counting on the notoriously short memories of average, ordinary, every-day Americans to prove our findings!  After all, who’s going to remember the high oil prices of 2012?”

According to the heavily redacted report, money was saved in the following areas:

Nursing home costs were lower … but only because quality-of-life services at many nursing homes are being cut to the bone.  And patient-assisted suicides were up by a substantial margin, as were at-home mercy killings.

Prescription drug price increases were lower … but only because drug companies are already charging $100,000 for a month’s supply of medication, a ceiling that is apparently even appalling to some drug company presidents.  “Drug companies have to turn a profit for their CEOs and shareholders, even if the side-effects of the drugs include headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, hearing loss, peat moss, dry mouth, wet mouth, diarrhea of the mouth, spontaneous combustion, spontaneous change in sex, and drowsiness,” defended a spokesman for the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), speaking on condition of anonymity.

Private health insurance spending was lower … but only because the American economy continued to hemorrhage jobs in 2012, thus depriving individuals of the money to actually buy private health insurance.

Medicare spending growth stayed low … but only because Congress has gerrymandered the forms and rules for Medicare, much like they have gerrymandered their voting districts to ensure perpetual re-election.

Prescription drug spending growth was low. Retail prescription drug spending slowed in 2012, growing only 0.4 percent as the result of numerous drugs losing their patent protection, leading to increased sales of lower-cost generics.

Medicaid spending stayed low … but only because so many recipients were thrown off the Medicaid program due to more insensitive and extreme “Welfare-to-Work” programs enforced by House Republicans. “I own seven houses, and you don’t see me needing a handout!” proclaimed a Republican House member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another question involves the overall credibility of the report due to the criticism and cynicism associated with previous CMS missteps and financial losses. Few will forget how, in the interest of saving money in the health care arena, former Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson (R-WI) changed the name “HCFA” – Health Care Financing Administration – to CMS in 2001.  “How could you ever like something called ‘HCFA’?” Thompson asked.  But millions of dollars were wasted during the rebranding of the agency.