MEDICARE REFORM: Thomas Contemplates Radical Change
House Ways and Means Committee health subcommittee Chair Bill Thomas (R-CA) yesterday said the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare should "consider 'radical' approaches to the entire health care system," CongressDaily reports. Speaking before a U.S. Chamber of Commerce symposium, Thomas stressed that all options need to be weighed, including a shift toward individual-based control of health insurance rather than the current employer-based system. He cautioned that "little has been required of individuals for their own income security until they reach 65, and that is the root of the problem with entitlements." Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), the chair of the Medicare reform commission, conceded only that "everything needs to be on the table."
Concerns About HCFA
Thomas suggested that the Health Care Financing Administration may need significant restructuring, questioning whether the agency "can become a more educational, more outreach-oriented organization that can keep pace with the dynamic changes in the health care industry." At the same event, Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles (R-OK) expressed reservations about "any health care reform measure that would involve 'the frightening prospect' of giving the HCFA more power" (2/24).