Medicare Giveback Bill Confirms Democrats’ ‘Worst Fears’
After a first inspection of the GOP-negotiated Medicare "giveback" bill on Oct. 23, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said that the legislation "confirmed our worst fears," CongressDaily reports. Democrats argue that the bill, which would restore about $28 billion in Medicare cuts to HMOs and providers over five years, provides "a huge gift to (HMOs) -- an absolute gift with no requirements" that they remain in the Medicare+Choice program. According to Daschle, health plans would receive more than one-third of the funding provided in the bill, a proportion that would rise to one-half over 10 years. Democrats also want more reductions in payment cuts for hospitals that treat a "disproportionate share" of uninsured patients and a provision that would allow states to extend coverage to legal immigrants. Despite the Democrats' complaints, Republicans remained "adamant" about passing their package, negotiated by the House Ways and Means and Commerce panels and the Senate Finance Committee. "We're not budging. We've got the votes," one GOP aide said. Many Democrats said that it will "be difficult to vote against" the bill, which provides "so much money" for hospitals and nursing homes. While Daschle expects the bill to pass, he hopes that President Clinton will "follow through on his promise" to veto the legislation. White House officials were scheduled to meet with Republicans on Oct. 24 to address the bill (Rovner, CongressDaily, 10/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.