NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Are House Republicans Wrong on Health Reform?

March 30, 2015

The fallout from last week's House vote to bind our children and grandchildren further into debt servitude to bail out an unreformed Medicare continues, says NCPA senior fellow John R. Graham.

Before the vote, Chris Jacobs of America Next (Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's think tank) warned Medicare could not survive reform if the so-called "doc fix" passed. Writing after the unfortunate vote, Jacobs explains House Republicans have actually moved left of Obama on Medigap reform:

The House legislation responds to this by making some types of Medigap coverage illegal. It would prohibit the sale or issuance of any policies that insulate beneficiaries from the Medicare Part B deductible of $147.

In contrast, the Obama administration's budget plan took a more conservative approach to this problem. It proposed a "premium surcharge for new beneficiaries beginning in 2019" choosing first-dollar Medigap coverage. Under its approach, insurers could still offer, and seniors could still purchase, insulating Medigap insurance—but they would have to repay taxpayers for additional Medicare spending engendered by their generous supplemental coverage.

The Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) has extended the estimate of the bill's fiscal effect to twenty years, double the ten years covered by the Congressional Budget Office. The result? $500 billion added to the debt.

Most encouraging is U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, who has written an excellent op-ed in Politico condemning the House GOP for rejecting its own budget resolution in favor of the seriously flawed doc fix:

Unfortunately, the House's SGR package misses an opportunity to solve Medicare's underlying problems. Rather than offering bold policy solutions, this bill relies primarily on command-and-control bureaucracy. It substitutes the flawed SGR formula for more than 120 pages of new rules to govern the practice of medicine.

Source: John R. Graham, "With Medicare Doc Fix, House Republicans Move Left of Obama on Health Reform," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 27, 2015. 


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