Independent Medicare Commission Weakened In Senate

Today’s news on the health care debates is somewhat favorable, but that depends upon your perspective. The legislation must be viewed in terms of how it balances positive aspects such as expanding care and cutting costs with questions of quality and the nature of the government regulations.

There are benefits to an independent Medicare commission which might reduce the political influences on decisions. I was also concerned that the Senate bill went to far in stressing cost cutting over other concerns. Karen Tumulty describes how the independent Medicare commission has been greatly weakened to a point where it very well might now be meaningless.

Many liberal bloggers are upset over this, and I understand their reasons. I also believe they are looking too much at cost cutting alone and are missing the big picture. We need a more reasonable middle position which maintains the benefits of an independent Medicare commission but which does not place cutting costs over other considerations as the commission was originally structured in the Senate bill. While there might be benefits to an up or down vote, our representatives in Congress must have the ability to throw out the recommendations if they were to decide that preserving quality is at times more important than cutting costs. The bill as originally structured would have made it virtually impossible for Congress to vote down the recommendations, giving an unelected group far too much power. Liberals who support such a small group having this  much power over Medicare should consider where Medicare might be if we had such a commission dominated by members appointed by recent Republican presidents who might have fulfilled the desire of many conservatives to destroy the  Medicare program.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    It’s always nice to be able to be in full agreement with you. On this note, I am.
     
    Any commision whose job is just to cut costs scares the hell out of me. It doesn’t really matter where they are trying to cut costs. If one’s only concern is making things cheaper, eventually one gets a cheap service. This is why Medicaid is not anywhere near the same quality as Medicare in most states and why the states in which it was actually a very good program (such as Tennessee’s TennCare program) have been cutting it for the last several years.
     
    Naturally, this scares me even more in the area of health care. While things should be done as cost-effectively as possible, the defenders of ‘the American taxpayer’ frequently argue the need to pay for quality. They should put their money where the mouths are when it comes to their taxes.
     

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