Archive for Friday, March 23, 2012

House votes on Medicare rationing

March 23, 2012


— House Republicans resurrected the specter of Medicare rationing Thursday in an election-year vote to repeal cost controls in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

In the GOP crosshairs is a board that has yet to be named but would be empowered to force cuts to drug companies, insurers and other service providers if Medicare spending balloons. A Republican plan announced this week, laying down a dividing line between the parties, also would limit Medicare cost increases, but it would rely on competition among private insurance plans.

GOP lawmakers are hoping their symbolic 223-181 vote on Thursday to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board will help persuade seniors that Republicans, not Democrats, are the best stewards of Medicare.

The bill is likely to hit a dead end in the Senate. House Republicans all but guaranteed that when they paired the board repeal with caps on medical malpractice awards, which most Democrats oppose. The White House has issued a veto threat.

If it all sounds like a debate among Washington insiders, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., says he will have no trouble explaining to constituents why he voted to repeal the cost-cutting board.

“Do you remember death panels?” said Kingston, referring to the debunked accusation by former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that Obama’s health care law would allow the government to withhold life-saving care from the elderly.

“It’s not necessarily a death panel, but it is a rationing panel and rationing does lead to scarcity for some,” he added. “Who’s going to get the needed treatment, an 85-year-old or the 40-year-old with children?”

The health care law explicitly bars the board from rationing care, shifting costs to Medicare recipients or cutting their benefits. But critics say squeezing service providers will stifle medical innovation, achieving a similar result.

Many House Democrats also oppose the board — dubbed IPAB for its initials — but for different reasons. They feel it diminishes the role of Congress. But Republicans made it difficult to attract Democratic votes for repeal by adding other politically charged provisions to their bill.

“Republicans don’t want to see IPAB repealed now because they want to run against it,” said Scott Gottlieb, a former senior FDA official in the George W. Bush administration. “I think there will be an effort to repeal it after the election.”

The House vote came a day before the second anniversary of the health care law, and just ahead of next week’s Supreme Court deliberations on its constitutionality. Politics aside, the vote highlighted major differences between the parties on Medicare, the giant health care program for nearly 50 million seniors and disabled people.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

Blame the Industry

  1. Obamacare did not necessarily increase the cost because the Medical Insurance Industry would have increased the cost no matter what. The industry has been doing so for years under the status quo umbrella. Pay increases have not matched insurance increases for many years.

Obamacare did not provide lower cost BUT did bring more protection to consumers.

Blame the medical insurance industry,the lobbyists and our politicians on all sides of the aisle!

  1. Under the current system never expect the rates to become reasonable so long as:
  2. Obscene CEO and BOD pay packages exist
  3. Shareholders exist
  4. monster bureaucracy that over 2,000 insurance providers create exists
  5. the cost of 6 lobbyists per elected official exists

  6. Massive corrupt political campaign spending against insurance reform such as: Former aides and elected officials spending $1.4 million health care dollars a day fighting reform:

  7. Politicians as shareholders with insider trading privileges:

  8. Insurers Wrongfully Charging Consumers Billions

Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 3 months ago

The Worst Part of Paul Ryan's Budget

Even if you like Ryan's Medicare and Medicaid reforms, his budget is essentially a plan to demolish every other government program outside of Social Security and defense

Paul Ryan's budget takes us back to 1950. That's not a metaphor. That's a statistic.

Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 3 months ago

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger believes there are too many good things in the Affordable Care Act to be overturned by the court system or Congress after the presidential election.

“I think it will be very hard to overturn the law,” she said. “When you really pin people down, there are lots of aspects of this law that people like.”

Among them:

• Elimination of annual and lifetime limits on insurance coverage. She said often those who need insurance coverage the most can’t get it, and that’s why so many Americans end up in bankruptcy. She said medical care is the No. 1 reason for U.S. bankruptcy.

• Elimination of pre-existing medical conditions. People will no longer be denied insurance coverage because of illness or previous health conditions. “Today, you most likely wouldn’t get coverage if you’ve had cancer. You would be denied,” she said.

• No co-pays or deductibles on preventive services, such as annual wellness exams. “Early detection of a disease or problem can be cost-effective, and the outcomes are often better. It’s a win-win,” she said.

• Allowing children to stay on their health insurance plan until age 26. She said about 2.5 million children are now insured nationally because of this provision, which already has been implemented.

“The bottom line is we need to get to a point where everyone can get the health care they need,” Praeger said. Not only is it a moral thing, she said, but costs will continue to escalate for those who pay for insurance if something isn’t done.

She said insurance companies estimate that 25 to 30 percent of the premiums they charge are to help cover uncompensated care.

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