House Republicans last week urged President Clinton to accept legislation allowing Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in private-sector medical savings account plans.
Some 130 House Republicans, led by Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) were expected to sign a letter urging Clinton to accept such provisions as part of any balanced-budget or Medicare reform legislation he may sign. They said MSAs are a key part of their program to expand choice of health coverage for seniors and restrain Medicare cost growth.
Balanced-budget legislation passed by Congress would allow seniors to enroll in low-premium, high-deductible plans and then put the rest of their benefit payments into savings accounts, from which seniors could draw funds to pay for day-to-day medical costs.
Clinton has opposed allowing Medi-care beneficiaries to join such plans, arguing that MSAs would attract more healthy and affluent seniors, leaving sicker and poorer seniors in the traditional Medicare fee-for-service risk pool and driving up the program's costs.
Clinton cited the inclusion of Medicare MSAs as one of his reasons for vetoing balanced-budget legislation last year. He has argued instead for an MSA demonstration project.
But House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) last week sought to assuage Clinton's concerns by suggesting risk-adjusted payments for MSA enrollees.