Who Are You Going to Believe?

Could someone give me a hand? I’m trying to reconcile this statement by Lanhee J. Chen And James C. Capretta from an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Medicare Advantage’s HMOs provided patients with covered services for 92% of the cost of the traditional fee-for-service program in 2013.

with this statement from MedPac, the “independent advisory board” that advises Congress on Medicare and Medicaid:

We estimate that 2014 MA benchmarks, bids, and payments (including the quality bonuses) will average 112 percent, 98 percent, and 106 percent of FFS spending, respectively.

My recollection is that MedPac’s statement is consistent with past experience. I don’t see how both statements can be right.

3 comments… add one
  • ...

    Almost certainly a case of cherry-picked data on one or both sides. The WSJ data looks most likely to be manipulated.

  • steve

    The recent papers on this have all been over 100%. I have never seen this 92% number. You keep referencing these papers with unusual numbers, like that horrible Morgan Stanley one, that dont provide links to any original source. Even Goodman acknowledges that MA costs more. He argues that you get enough benefits from the extra spending to offset the extra cost. (There are some urban areas where there exists some actual competition among the MA plans. Some of those do have lower costs than FFS Medicare.)


  • You keep referencing these papers with unusual numbers

    Steve, I think you need to read the post more closely. I read the WSJ op-ed, which included a handwave at MedPac but no actual citation. I went to MedPac’s website and found the summary report I cited there which did not support the op-ed’s claim. I then wrote a post which was, essentially, a raised eyebrow about the claims being made in the op-ed.

    Why are you criticizing me for failure to cite? The criticism belongs to the op-ed not to me. Further, I’m writing skeptically about their claim. Why are you reacting as though I were supporting it?

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