KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospital, Physician Lobbyists Fought Medicare Buy-In Proposal

The Washington Post offers a look at how hospital and physician lobbyists adamantly fought the Medicare buy-in proposal, which would have allowed people age 55 to 64 to buy Medicare coverage. Such efforts led to the proposal's disappearance within six days. "Four days before the Senate jettisoned the idea of expanding Medicare to younger Americans, a dozen Senate Democrats, including some of the chamber's most liberal members, dispatched a stern letter warning that the proposal would make it harder for elderly patients in parts of the country to find care." The letter "underscores the difficulty of forging policy and political deals in the warp-speed, supercharged environment in which Congress is trying to reshape the nation's health-care system. ... Sources on and off Capitol Hill say the quick life and death of the Medicare buy-in reflects the complex politics and a brutal reality at this stage of the Senate's deliberations, in which there is little time to refine proposals that do not immediately attract the 60 votes needed for health-care legislation to pass" (Goldstein, 12/16).

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