Thursday, July 30, 2009

And You Thought 1984 Was So Last Century: Blue Dogs Claim "Savings"

The Blue Dog Dems are pulling a fast one, this time claiming that more is less.

These "fiscal conservatives" on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have reached a temporary agreement to do the following: raise Medicare payments to (their) rural hospitals; shift the cost of Medicaid expansions away from the feds and on to (their) poor states; and to increase all provider reimbursement rates under the public plan. (see clips below.) This all will add about $10 billion a year to the bill.

To the public: We will have a busy month in August, getting the Senate to come up with something the House can live with; and getting Speaker Pelosi and other Dem leaders to craft a House bill that the Progressive Caucus can vote for, and which, by the way, would really be fiscally conservative."The new proposal includes a public health insurance option to compete against private insurers, but it does not tie the payments to Medicare's rates of reimbursement to health-care providers, something many liberal lawmakers had sought. Instead, it calls for the health secretary to negotiate rates with hospitals and doctors, just as private insurance companies do. Rural health-care providers generally receive less in Medicare reimbursements than their urban counterparts, and delinking the public plan from Medicare was considered critical for conservative Democrats" (Kane and Murray, 7/30). The New York Times : "Medicaid would be expanded, as under the original bill, but states would pay a small share of the additional costs, perhaps 7 percent. The federal government would have paid all the additional cost under the original bill. People with low or moderate incomes could still get federal subsidies to help them buy insurance, but they might have to spend slightly more of their own income — a maximum of 12 percent, rather than 11 percent" (Pear and Herszenhorn, 7/29). Kaiser Health News reports that Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., "said that, all told, the revised bill would cost $100 billion less over 10 years, although precisely how that would be accomplished will be unclear until the CBO prepares a cost analysis of the overall bill. House senior Democratic aides said that the demands for revised reimbursement rates and more protection for small businesses would actually add $100 billion to the cost of the bill, and would have to be offset with savings elsewhere."

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