Posts filed under ‘Bipartisanship’

Hold The Applause

We agree it’s important to find a permanent solution to the physician payment formula (“Sustainable Growth Rate” or SGR), but the Bill passed by the House of Representatives today is not the answer. It isn’t balanced. It asks too much from beneficiaries without providing enough in return. It asks nothing from pharmaceutical or insurance companies. It continues the ever-increasing privatization of Medicare by increasing costs for beneficiaries for traditional Medicare and Medigap plans. It adds unnecessary costs for the Medicare program and taxpayers.

Of the portion of the SGR costs that will be off set, roughly half (approximately $35 billion of the total $70 billion over 10 years) would come from Medicare beneficiaries through changes that will increase their out-of-pocket costs for health care, including:
• Adding deductibles to Medigap plans purchased by new Medicare beneficiaries starting in 2020;
• Further means-testing premiums for higher-income beneficiaries; and
• Overall increases in Part B premiums.

While the SGR package would make the low-income, Qualified Individual (QI), program permanent, which we strongly support, and would minimally increase and temporarily extend important funding for beneficiary education and outreach, it does not address other key issues that serve as barriers to care. For example, instead of repealing the annual outpatient therapy caps, the process to seek an exception to the cap is extended for another two years. Instead of addressing hospital Observation Status, the Bill further extends enforcement of the so-called “two-midnight” rule.

In short, Medicare beneficiaries would pay too much, with too little in return. Major drug and insurance industries pay nothing, and stand to gain a great deal. As the SGR debate moves to the Senate, we hope further balance and improvements for beneficiaries will be made.

March 26, 2015 at 9:22 pm Leave a comment

Corporations Don’t Bleed

Too often people with low and moderate incomes fail to get the health coverage they need.  Women are frequently harmed the most.  In addition to their own health concerns, they are usually the gender responsible for family-planning and family care-taking.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby reduces women’s rights and erodes women’s access to health care.  In Hobby Lobby, the Court found that “closely held” corporations needn’t provide health insurance for their employees if it would violate their religious beliefs  Incredibly, the decision advances corporate rights over women’s rights.  And it advances the notion that corporations are people too – with religious beliefs!

Corporations don’t bleed; they don’t get pregnant; they don’t take care of children and parents.  Women do.

Congress:  Take action.  Reconsider the Religious Freedom Restoration Act at the heart of the Hobby Lobby decision.

Women, Men, people who bleed, get sick, and take care of others who do:  Speak out against this injustice.

July 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Save Medicare From Private Vouchers

Once again, Rep. Paul Ryan has reiterated his plan and commitment to “save” Medicare through priatization. (http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2012/05/medicare-two-paths-two-futures/568246) If only the logic of his plan was as clear as his determination to change Medicare into a set of capped vouchers. If passed, the popular community Medicare program would be replaced. Instead, individuals eligible for Medicare would get an annual alloawance to shop for their own insurance coverage.
Yet again, the Ryan plan would eliminate Medicare, not save it.

May 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

Medicare “Reform” – Beware the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

This week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) outlined yet another effort to privatize Medicare; a twist on Rep. Ryan’s voucher plan from earlier this year.

The new proposal would supposedly “preserve” the traditional Medicare program, but force it to compete with private plans. Similar to the earlier Ryan voucher plan, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost Medicare beneficiaries twice as much as traditional Medicare, this one is based on the flawed assumption that private plans will save Medicare money through competition and innovation. The belief that privatization will drive down costs is not based in fact.

On the contrary, private plans have not saved Medicare money, and often cost more than traditional Medicare. In fact, traditional Medicare — not private plans — has been the leader in innovations to keep health costs down and increase quality.

Under the latest Ryan privatization plan, beneficiaries would have a voucher to purchase a health plan (including traditional Medicare), and there would be a cap on the overall amount of Medicare spending per beneficiary. If a plan (including traditional Medicare) cost more than the voucher amount, then the beneficiary would have to pay the difference between the actual price and the voucher.

If traditional Medicare is forced to compete with private, for-profit plans, as Ryan proposes, private plans will work to minimize their spending, and woo the least costly beneficiaries. If beneficiaries that are more expensive to treat remain in traditional Medicare, it will be at a built-in competitive disadvantage, and might well become unsustainable.

The math is pretty simple. If beneficiaries pay more for health care, the federal government will save money. That’s where these federal savings come from. But this approach won’t do anything to reduce overall health care spending, which is the real problem. Instead, it will likely lead to reduction in benefits and increase cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries. Don’t be fooled into thinking this proposal protects and preserves Medicare – it eliminates a unified program.

Traditional Medicare has changed dramatically since its inception in 1965. It has been a cost-effective health care insurance model leading to innovation, access to care and economic security. But Medicare has been complicated and made more expensive by adding layers of private options. Further, as Medicare becomes more and more fragmented and traditional Medicare loses enrollment, it loses its bargaining power over health care costs and its ability to create innovations in the broader health system.

Untethered from the overspending and complexities that have been foisted on Medicare by private plans and non-negotiable drug prices, it could once again be a model, for affordable health insurance. Traditional Medicare needs to be strengthened with fewer, not more private options.

December 16, 2011 at 8:42 pm Leave a comment

Class Warfare? Discuss.

To reduce the deficit, the President suggests we increase taxes for the 430,000 Americans who have incomes above $1 million. The Republican leadership (Boehner, Ryan, McConnell and Graham) say that’s class warfare.  They say it’s unfair to balance the budget at the expense of these few rich people (0.3% of the population).  Instead, they say, we should look to reduce spending – only.  In particular, we should cut Medicaid and Medicare.  

47  million older and disabled Americans are enrolled in Medicare.  58 million poor children, pregnant women, older and disabled people are enrolled in Medicaid. 

Query:  Why is it class warfare to tax a little more the few of us who are lucky enough to be millionaires, but it’s not class warfare to cut health care coverage for the vast number of us who are enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid?   Discuss.

September 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

Sen. Lieberman: Wrong Way on Medicare

We’re sorry – Connecticut’s Senior Senator has once again entered the Medicare “reform” debate with the wrong perspective.  Instead of looking to insure more people while lowering costs, Senator Lieberman, and his colleague Sen. Coburn, unveiled a plan on June 28th that is misdirected – reducing the number of people covered by Medicare, and foregoing major opportunities to bring down costs.

The Lieberman-Coburn proposal would raise the age of eligibility for Medicare, raise the cost of Medicare for beneficiaries, limit the ability to purchase supplemental insurance to fill Medicare’s gaps, and continue billions of dollars of wasteful overpayments to pharmaceutical companies and private Medicare plans.

Listen carefully folks, this is not the right direction for Medicare!

Read more of Judith Stein’s comments on the plan nobody is going to like in the CT Mirror at http://www.ctmirror.org/story/13101/liebermancoburn

June 28, 2011 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

Fool Me Once…

Newt Gingrich, staunch supporter of Medicare?  That’s why he’s opposed to health care reform?  If you read just the opening paragraph of Paul Krugman’s February 12, 2010 Op-Ed article, you might believe this.  Well, you might believe it if you haven’t been paying attention to anything Gingrich and his fellow conservatives have been doing for the last couple of decades.

Gingrich himself is the man who enthusiastically declared in 1995, as Republicans pushed for Draconian cuts to the Medicare program, that Medicare would thus “wither on the vine.”

Yet, here we are 15 years later, and Mr. Gingrich is crying, according to Krugman, that “the reform bills passed by the House and Senate cut Medicare by approximately $500 billion. This is wrong.”

No, Mr. Gingrich, what’s wrong is the gall of hypocrites who will grasp any tactic to frighten people and fight the real health care reform our country so desperately needs.

February 19, 2010 at 5:31 pm Leave a comment

Further to Senators Who Live in Glass Houses …

As Center for Medicare Advocacy executive director Judith Stein writes in today’s Washington Post, consideration of the current health reform bills calls for some perspective, and some knowledge of very recent history.

Read the letter, here.

December 28, 2009 at 4:37 pm Leave a comment

Senators Who Live In Glass Houses …

Reporting about health reform agreements among Senators ought to include a look into some recent history, which few know about, acknowledge, or care to remember.  Hint:  look at the “process”  and deals involved in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.

December 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

It Takes 2 To Tango: Senator Baucus Tells The Truth About (Not)Bipartisan Health Care Reform

Senate Floor Remarks of Senator Max Baucus  December 22, 2009

“Mr. President, it has been more than a month since the Majority Leader moved to proceed to the health care reform bill before us today.  At long last, the Senate is now in the final throes of passing this historic legislation.

From the beginning, this Senator has sought out what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”  That’s the way that this Senator has always sought to legislate.

A year and a half ago, I convened a bipartisan retreat at the Library of Congress.  Half a year ago, I convened three bipartisan roundtables with health care experts.  Half a year ago, the Finance Committee conducted three bipartisan walk-throughs of the major concepts behind the bill before us today.

We went the extra mile.  I reached out to my good friend, the Ranking Republican Member of the Finance Committee.  I reached out to the ranking Republican Member of the Health Committee.  We sought to craft a bill that would appeal to the broad middle.  We sought to craft a bill that could win the support of Republicans and Democrats alike.

We met, a group of six of us, three Democrats and three Republicans.  We met more than 30 times.  We met for months.  No, we did not reach a formal agreement.  The Leadership on the other side of the aisle went to great lengths to stop us from doing so.

But even though we did not reach a formal agreement, we came very close to doing so.  The principles that we discussed are very much the principles upon which the Finance Committee built its bill.  The principles that we discussed are very much the principles reflected in the bill before us today.

From the debate that the Senate has conducted this past month, you would not know it.  During this debate, some on the other side of the aisle have mischaracterized the bill before us.  Some on the other side of the aisle have set about a systematic campaign to demonize this bill.  Through bare assertion alone, with the thinnest connection to fact, they have sought to vilify our work.  If one listened to their assertions alone, one would not recognize the bill before us.

And so, let me, quite simply, state the facts.

Some on the other side of the aisle assert that this bill is a Government takeover of health care.  The fact is that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that this bill would reduce the Government’s fiscal role in health care.  Just 3 days ago, CBO wrote, and I quote:“CBO expects that the proposal would generate a reduction in the federal budgetary commitment to health care during the decade following the 10-year budget window.”

Some on the other side of the aisle assert that this bill would add to our Nation’s burden of debt.  The fact is that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that this bill would reduce the deficit by $132 billion in the first 10 years and by between $650 billion and $1.3 trillion in the second 10 years.  The fact is that this is the most serious deficit reduction effort in more than a decade.

Some on the other side of the aisle assert that this bill would harm Medicare.  The fact is that Medicare’s independent Actuary says that this bill would extend the life of Medicare by 9 years.  The fact is that this is the most responsible effort to shore up Medicare in more than a decade.

Some on the other side of the aisle assert that this bill does not do enough to ensure the uninsured.  The fact is that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that this bill would extend access to health care to 31 million Americans who otherwise would have to go without.  The fact is that CBO says, and I quote: “the share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage would rise from about 83 percent currently to about 94 percent.”

Nothing that Senators on the other side of the aisle have proposed would come close.  CBO estimated that the Republican substitute offered in the House of Representatives would have extended coverage to just 3 million people.  The fact is that CBO says of that plan, and I quote: “The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share.”

I would cite the facts about the Republican substitute in the Senate.  But the fact is that there is no Republican substitute.

Some on the other side of the aisle assert that they simply prefer a more modest reform of health care.  The fact is that the Republicans controlled the Senate from 1995 to 2001 and from 2003 to 2006.  The fact is that before they took control, in 1994, 36 million Americans, 15.8 percent of non-elderly Americans were without health insurance coverage.  In the last year of their control, in 2006, nearly 47 million Americans, 17.8 percent of non-elderly Americans were without health insurance coverage.  The legacy of Republican control was 10 million more Americans uninsured.

Some on the other side of the aisle say that we are moving too fast.  The fact is that it was 1912 when former President Theodore Roosevelt first made national health insurance part of the Progressive Party’s campaign platform.  The fact is that people of good will have been working at this for nearly a century.

The fact is, health care reform for America is now within reach.  The fact is, the most serious effort to control health care costs is now within reach.  The fact is, life-saving health care coverage for 31 million Americans is now within reach.

Let us, at long last, grasp that result.  Let us, this time, not let this good thing slip through our hands.  And let us, at long last, enact health care reform for all.”

December 22, 2009 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment


Health Policy Expertise

We provide effective, innovative opportunities to impact federal Medicare and health care policies and legislation in order to advance fair access to Medicare and quality health care.

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