The fallout from yesterday’s House vote to bind our children and grandchildren further into debt servitude to bail out an unreformed Medicare continues.
Before the vote, Chris Jacobs of America Next (Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s think tank) warned that Medicare could not survive reform if the so-called “doc fix” passed. Writing after the unfortunate vote, Jacobs explains that 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. (While I support the goal of paying for quality and results, I have little faith in Medicare bureaucrats’ actually achieving that objective.)
Let’s hope that Senator Sasse will not stand alone when the U.S. Senate takes up this disastrous bill.
What can be done to rescue victory from defeat? Amend the legislation such that the doc fix is limited to two years, mirroring the Children’s Health Insurance Progam (CHIP) extension in the House bill.
This would buy enough time for the next president to sign effective reforms, as proposed in the GOP’s budget resolutions.