Wait, I thought Obamacare was supposed to solve the problem of access to affordable health coverage—especially for older Americans! Are Democrats now saying their signature legislation has made the problem worse?
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has introduced the “Medicare at 55 Act” to allow Americans aged 55-64 to buy into the Medicare health insurance program. Seven other Democrats are original co-sponsors of the legislation.
. . .
It’s time for a new approach to fixing our broken health care system. A responsible Congress could consider this moment as a unique opportunity to address health care costs, take advantage of amazing new technologies and improve the overall health and wellness of Americans.
Here are ten proposals that Republicans and Democrats should consider and approach with bipartisanship, ensuring both government and Americans pay less and get better health care:
1. Cut drug costs.
2. Allow veterans to use convenient hospitals.
3. Trim Medicare costs by slowly raising the age and income eligibility.
4. Allow insurance to be purchased across state lines.
. . .
All eyes are on the Senate as it debates what to do about ObamaCare. But the House has a last chance this week to abolish one of the law’s most dangerous creations: a board with sweeping, unchecked power to ration care.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board—what critics call the death panel—would be an unelected, unaccountable body with broad powers to slash Medicare spending. But the law contains a living will for IPAB. If the president signs a congressional resolution extinguishing the panel by Aug. 15, it will never come into existence.
The real deadline is closer, since the House plans to recess Friday and not return until Sept. 5. But if the House does act, the Senate will have time to follow, since it plans to remain in session until mid-August.
. . .
The struggles faced by Presidents Obama and Trump since the passage of the Affordable Care Act have created the impression that it’s impossible to successfully reform American health care. On the non-group market, premiums have soared, networks have narrowed, individuals have refused to enroll, and insurers have fled the marketplace. But despite the dysfunction of the market that was the primary focus of the ACA’s reforms, employer-provided coverage and the Medicare program have never been in better shape. Under those arrangements, which cover the majority of Americans, spending growth has abated, quality of care is improving, and premiums are rising at the slowest rate in recent memory. President Obama tried to claim credit for these trends, but they actually date to 2003, when President Bush pushed his own signature legislative achievement, the Medicare Modernization Act, through Congress.
. . .
The Senate is advancing Seema Verma, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Senators voted 54-44 Thursday on her nomination, which needed only a simple majority to overcome the initial procedural hurdle.
The Senate could take a final vote on Verma on Friday night, but her confirmation is expected to be kicked to Monday.
. . .
President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday morning picked the founder and CEO of a health policy consulting firm, Seema Verma, to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“I am pleased to nominate Seema Verma to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” said President-elect Trump in a statement. “She has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems. Together, Chairman Price and Seema Verma are the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans.”
. . .
Ever since the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces opened for business in 2014, the Obama administration has worked hard to get Americans to sign up. Yet officials now are telling some older people that they might have too much insurance and should cancel their marketplace policies.
Each month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is sending emails to about 15,000 people with subsidized marketplace coverage. The message arrives a few weeks before their 65th birthday, which is when most become eligible for Medicare.
The CMS says some Medicare beneficiaries are receiving tax credits to purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The agency is warning them to cancel their exchange coverage immediately and pay back the credit they’ve received.
. . .
Former Obama administration official Donald Berwick once called the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) “the jewel in the crown of health-care reform.” The metaphor is apt: CMMI, more than any other aspect of Obamacare, is an imperial enterprise.
Congress established CMMI in the Obamacare statute with the goal of finding ways to reduce federal spending on medical care without diminishing its quality. That, of course, is the responsibility of Congress, which created the Medicare program and which alone bears responsibility for making legislative changes to it.
. . .
Our constitutional system was carefully designed to prevent any one branch from seizing too much control over the entire government. Only Congress can write legislation; only the President can execute the laws; only the courts can judge whether the laws are constitutional.
This balance of powers, however, does not maintain itself. It is a dynamic equilibrium requiring each branch of government to protect and fully exercise its rightful authorities. When one branch encroaches on another, that balance is endangered — and so are the freedoms the separation of powers were intended to protect.
. . .