House Democrats in ongoing caucus meetings are considering additional options for cutting costs in a nearly $1 trillion health reform bill that leadership is pressing to finalize in the coming weeks.
“We’re coming round the bend” on the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during a news conference.
A surtax on the nation’s highest earners has been favored as way to offset costs, “and I think that’s the approach the House will follow,” Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) told reporters. Increasing access to Medicaid—which theoretically would save more money than having the same people enroll in the health insurance exchange—was another cost-saving measure that was discussed.
Members of the caucus continued to wrangle with the format of the public plan. Setting reimbursement on negotiated rates would result in an estimated $25 billion in savings over 10 years, but rates set at Medicare plus 5% “would save $110 billion and that’s a big difference,” Connolly said.
Requiring doctors to participate in the public plan as a condition for accepting Medicare patients could potentially make up that difference, saving up to $90 billion over 10 years, offered Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). The trade-off is physicians would know what their rates would be, “and they wouldn’t have to deal with insurance companies,” Weiner said.