Pennsylvania Congressional Members Criticize Clinton for Veto Threat of Medicare Givebacks
President Clinton and Congress "must stabilize" Medicare+Choice "to ensure that seniors and the disabled have access to additional benefits," Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Rep. James Greenwood (R-Pa.) write in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed. The two lawmakers note that it is "unfortunate" that Clinton "has threatened" to veto legislation they proposed that they maintain would "significantly increase payments to Medicare health plans ... and prevent the imposition of undue regulations." Clinton has said the legislation, which is attached to a larger tax-relief bill, directs too much money to payers rather than providers. Santorum and Greenwood point out that many Medicare HMOs have cut back on prescription drug benefits and increased premiums "in response to" reduced reimbursements and "burdensome" Medicare regulations. Those plans were given an "insignificant" increase of 2% in Medicare reimbursements last year, Santorum and Greenwood write. The two say they are "puzzled" that Clinton "has not engaged in" efforts to reform Medicare reimbursements, even as many Medicare HMOs increase premiums or withdraw from the Medicare market. The lawmakers conclude, "Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress support stabilizing the Medicare program to ensure that access to quality health care is not jeopardized for any senior citizen or disabled person. We are committed to resolving this issue this year" (Santorum/Greenwood, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.