Bush Will Look To Trim Role of Government in Health Care System
The Bush administration health care agenda for this year likely "will consist largely of fending off Democratic lawmakers until a new president and Congress take charge," the AP/Miami Herald reports.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said that the administration seeks to reduce the role of the federal government in health care delivery. According to the AP/Herald, that "goal is at odds with several Democratic proposals." Leavitt said that the debate over health care proposals in Congress this year "will be replete with the kind of conflict this town is famous for." Most policy analysts do not expect compromises on any major health care proposals this year.
Democrats seek to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to cover an additional four million children nationwide, according to Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. Congress on Wednesday will attempt to override a presidential veto of legislation that would expand SCHIP. A similar veto override vote failed by 13 votes in the House last year.
In addition, Democrats seek to reduce Medicare reimbursements to private Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare reimbursements for MA plans, which cover about nine million beneficiaries, cost 12% more than reimbursements for the fee-for-service program for equivalent benefits. Leavitt said that the administration will not support a reduction in Medicare reimbursements to MA plans.
Democrats also seek to pass legislation to allow FDA to regulate tobacco products. Leavitt said the administration opposes such legislation because FDA regulation of tobacco products might prompt individuals to believe such products are safe.
Despite disagreement on most health care issues, Democrats and Republicans both support legislation to reverse a 10% reduction in Medicare reimbursements to physicians. Congress last year delayed the reduction, previously scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, by six months.
Democrats and Republicans also have some agreement on the issue of food safety (Freking, AP/Miami Herald, 1/20).