Key lawmakers met to discuss a path that would lead to a broad healthcare-reform bill, though discussions over process and jurisdiction trumped talks on the actual substance of such a bill, according to lawmakers who attended the meeting.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, called the confab, which included Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), very positive, adding that the groundwork being laid now will pay dividends early next year when lawmakers tackle the herculean task of reforming the healthcare system.
That process is very important, he said. Nothing is going to get done in the Senate if its not bipartisan, so its very important that this meeting takes place both from the committees involved and from the political parties involved.
Baucus, who chairs the influential Senate Finance Committee, pledged an open and regular process when it comes to drafting legislation, allowing for a full committee process and possible amendments as the bill advances through Congress.
Last week, Baucus released a comprehensive white paper showing several paths to universal healthcare coverage universal healthcare coverage, including creating an insurance exchange as one component and expanding already existing federal programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
While holding details of the meeting close to the vest, Baucus said that any reform bill would be the domain of Congress, though lawmakers would take their cues from the Obama administration and a host of other stakeholders. The comment was a nod to the early 1990s, when the Clinton administration triedand failedto pass comprehensive health reform by drafting a bill from the White House and then trying to get Congress to buy in.
Baucus and Grassley also released details of a draft bill that would establish a value-based purchasing program for hospitals in the Medicare program. The proposal links federal payments to the quality of care patients receive rather than just the number of services a hospital provides.
Under the plan, hospitals would be either rewarded or penalized financially depending on how they measure against a host of standard quality measures. The program would begin in 2012. -- by Matthew DoBias
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your comments to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.