House Republican Medicare Reform Plan Contains ‘Precious Little’ Reforms, Rovner Writes
A "close examination" of recent drafts of House Republicans' Medicare reform package "finds precious little of the types of reforms both the Bush administration and congressional Republicans have been espousing," CongressDaily/AM's Julie Rovner writes in her "Health Matters" column. Although the GOP package includes plans to "put the ailing Medicare+Choice program back on its feet," as well as proposals for new "competitive" bidding schemes for durable medical equipment and laboratory services, "the type of structural reform Republicans have been touting" since the "narrow failure" in 1999 of the bipartisan Medicare commission led by Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and Rep. William Thomas (R-Calif.) is "noticeably absent." Rovner writes that House Republicans have "concede[d]" that broad, long-term reform "is not possible at the moment," although they "insist the bill is not yet finished." According to a pollster who has studied health care issues, election-year politics are affecting the Medicare reform debate. "[I]t's very difficult to do major Medicare reform six months before an election," he said, adding, "It requires a broader communication effort and presidential leadership and (the president) out there pitching and selling it" (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 5/23).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.