Congress has been working on new budget legislation with bipartisan support. Some parts are clearly positives, such as the restoration of funding for community health centers, and an even-farther-into-the-future extension of CHIP funds. On the other hand, it proposes the death of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, an Obamacare institution intended to hold down health care costs (though the board itself has never actually materialized). This may represent an important symbolic (if immediately immaterial) retreat from the idea of “bending the cost curve”.
“In a rare show of bipartisanship for the mostly polarized 115th Congress, Republican and Democratic Senate leaders announced a two-year budget deal that would increase federal spending for defense as well as key domestic priorities, including many health programs…The deal does appear to include almost every other health priority Democrats have been pushing the past several months, including two years of renewed funding for community health centers and a series of other health programs Congress failed to provide for before they technically expired last year.”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: February 10 2018
This is the big development in national health policy over the last week. The ACA (Obamacare) set up an institution called the IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board) to help lower Medicare costs. In theory, this 15-person board would recommend cost cuts to Congress, who would then be obligated to EITHER pass the recommended cuts into law, or pass its own cuts of equivalent dollar value. Now, the House Republican majority has indicated that it will not honor the IPAB-recommended cuts.
It remains to be seen whether or not it is actually legal for the IPAB recommendations to be ignore. Regardless, I think this underscores one of the central problems in health care politics: everyone wants to reduce costs in theory, but few want to do so in practice.
Blog commentary here:
Discussion and comparison of USA health care costs to our European counterparts. Some pretty informative graphs, if you don’t have time to read:
“…mathematically, the books would balance if we decided to tax away 50-60% of our national income.” Does anyone think Americans would want that level of taxation?
How well does the USA prioritize preventive care? Pretty well, actually, compared to other rich countries.
This is a bit outdated (pre-election), but herein Peter Orszag (prior director of the Congressional Budget Office, and later of the Office of Management and Budget) does a great job of explaining how Medicare Advantage plans, despite UNDERbidding traditional Medicare for the patients they take care of, actually make LESS efficient use of federal health care dollars.