Save the Medicare Commission!
The independent Medicare Commission is one of the most promising cost-control measures in the Senate bill. But as Joshua Gordon explains, it's been seriously weakened in recent weeks. The big problem is that the commission is now barred from submitting reform proposals when Medicare's five-year spending growth average is lower than the health-care system's more generally.
But Medicare's five-year average is almost always lower than the health-care system's. Medicare is better at containing costs. But better, in this case, is not good enough. Medicare will go bankrupt, and so too will the federal government -- and it will be no consolation that cost growth is even worse in the rest of the health-care system.
It's particularly important that the Senate fix this because the House, quite simply, won't. If anything, members of the House are likely to try and weaken the Medicare Commission in conference, as they've never much liked the idea. The administration will weigh in firmly on its behalf, but if the Senate has neutered it and the House opposes it, they won't be coming to the table with a very strong hand.
December 3, 2009; 10:35 AM ET
Categories: Health Reform
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