Conservative Group of House Republicans Demands Several Provisions in Medicare Legislation
A group of conservative House Republicans yesterday began to circulate a letter stating that they would not support a final Medicare bill without certain provisions, CongressDaily/AM reports. A draft of the letter sent to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said, "We are writing to tell you that we cannot in good conscience vote for the Medicare prescription drug benefit bill when it comes out of conference if the Senate weakens the bill that passed the House." The group, led by Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) and Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), said in the letter that a final Medicare bill must meet four requirements to receive support from conservative House Republicans. According to the letter, the bill:
- Cannot include price controls on prescription drugs;
- Must include a provision that would require traditional fee-for-service Medicare to begin to compete with private health insurers in 2010;
- Must include a "generous expansion of health savings accounts"; and
- Must include provisions to ensure that the cost of the bill would not exceed $400 billion over 10 years.
The letter also said that conservative House Republicans would support a bill that would provide large subsidies for low-income Medicare beneficiaries and "catastrophic" coverage for those with the highest prescription drug costs, provisions that "even some Democrats have been quietly considering," CongressDaily/AM reports. "This scaled-down model would provide the coverage to those who need it at a fraction of the cost of a new, unlimited entitlement," the letter said. House and Senate leaders have established an Oct. 1 deadline for Medicare conference committee members to "show major progress" on some of the "contentious portions" in the final bill. According to one House Republican, the committee may have to move to an unnamed "plan B" in the event that they cannot meet the deadline (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 9/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.