Saturday, April 04, 2015

Billy Long: House plan strengthens Medicare

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

After 17 years of patching the old inner tube, on March 26th the House did the right thing and put on a new tire. We said enough is enough on such an important issue for our seniors and passed a permanent fix to Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), known as the “doc fix.” The House passed legislation to permanently repeal this flawed formula and replace it with a plan that strengthens Medicare, providing our seniors with better care.

The SGR was enacted in 1997 as part of the Balanced Budget Act and has been a chronic source of concern for physicians who serve seniors. Consistently recognized as an imperfect solution rewarding quantity of services over quality of care, Congress has repeatedly implemented a temporary “doc fix” to prevent substantial Medicare reimbursement rate cuts, which could result in fewer physicians serving Medicare patients.

By an overwhelming vote of 392 to 37, the House passed a permanent solution to fixing the flawed SGR. The legislation establishes the first real structural reform to Medicare in nearly two decades without increasing taxes.

I urge the Senate to pass this legislation so Congress can once-and-for-all be done with the short-term fixes to the SGR. I hope this legislation can serve as a model for future legislative efforts to reform our nation’s programs without increasing the tax burden on Americans.


Steve said...

Mr. Long: What provisions, if any, does the House bill have on raising the eligibility age for Medicare? It seems to me that our nation can and should provide this care at age 65. By the time you hit that age, your working days are done or drawing to a close. Paying for private health insurance is only possible for some. Starting in 2024, the Ryan budget would raise the eligibility age for Medicare — now 65 — by two months per year until it reaches age 67 in 2035. At the same time, the plan would repeal health reform’s coverage provisions. Consequently, 65- and 66-year-olds would have neither Medicare nor access to health insurance exchanges in which they could buy coverage at an affordable price and receive subsidies to help them secure coverage if their incomes are low.
This change would drive 65- and 66-year-olds who don’t have employer-sponsored coverage into a poorly regulated individual insurance market that charges older individuals extremely high premiums. People of limited means would be affected most harshly because they would not be able to afford private coverage. In addition, 65- and 66-year-olds with a pre-existing medical condition often would not be able to purchase coverage at any price. As a result, many 65- and 66-year-olds would find themselves without health insurance coverage.

Anonymous said...

I think it's safe to say that if the House passed a bill that increased the Medicare eligibility age we'd have heard about it, and would continue to hear about it for years.

Steve's comment is a "Look, squirrel!" distraction from the House actually doing something genuinely useful for once. The "doc fix" game is ridiculous when it's only a game played Inside the Beltway, and downright harmful when it gets delayed and doctors and and CMS have to delay filing and processing claims until the Congress gets it act together.