Independent Panel To Rein In Health Costs Gaining Support
"As Congress grapples with how to rein in the high cost of healthcare in America, the option of outsourcing hard decisions to a new, independent commission is gaining momentum," the Christian Science Monitor reports. "Backers say a commission with a mandate to improve America's healthcare delivery system and rein in unsustainable costs could be a game-changer. At a time when lawmakers are getting hammered by interest groups, it's also a nod to the goal of fiscal discipline without having to specify where those cuts will come. Critics say it's the latest sign that Congress can't muster the political will to cut unsustainable costs."
The Committee for a Responsible Budget released a report Monday that found none of the current bills do enough to control costs. "The Senate Finance Committee's healthcare bill proposes a 15-member, independent Medicare Commission to present Congress with comprehensive reform proposals. In years when Medicare costs are projected to be unsustainable, these proposals take effect, unless Congress intervenes with an alternative that achieves the same level of savings. ... The Congressional Budget Office estimates that such a commission would reduce Medicare spending by $22 billion from 2015 to 2019, when its recommendations would begin to be implemented" (Chaddock, 10/20).
Meanwhile, Congress Daily reports on a new push for keeping consumers' health costs down. "Patient, consumer and labor groups are crafting a proposal they plan to shop to key senators to make health coverage more affordable than it would be under legislation approved by the Senate Finance Committee, hoping to influence a final Senate version of healthcare overhaul. Eleven groups, including AARP, The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Service Employees International Union, are working on the pitch, which has not been signed off on by every group. A draft outline pushes further expanding Medicaid to those earning 150 percent of the federal poverty level and decreasing out-of-pocket costs for certain wage earners. The changes would cost $103 billion, according to the outline. It does not suggest a specific offset, but it said the groups might ask leaders to designate any additional cost savings identified in the final bill to be allocated toward affordability measures" (Edney, 10/20).