Rockefeller said that the hospital deal, coupled with others made with a variety of provider groups, account for roughly 60% of Medicare spending.
“So that part of Medicare has been carved out in what I would call secret deals, and I don't want to see” those last, he said.
Lawmakers are considering a measure that would allow those aged 55 to 64 to buy into the Medicare program, which typically is available for those who are 65 or older. The provision would be part of other components that would then be packaged as an alternative to the public option now in the Senate's bill.
Both the Federation of American Hospitals and the American Hospital Association called on their members to help defeat the measure.
“Adding millions of people to these programs at a time when they already severely underfund hospitals is unwise and should be opposed,” the American Hospital Association said in an e-mailed membership letter.
But Rockefeller said he was unmoved, adding that he would continue to try to overturn the deal through a series of amendments even if hospitals threatened to try to kill legislation.
“And my sort of philosophy on that is, we're far enough down the road that if they start doing that, the relationship between the carve-out and” the providers “would become so clear that it won't be flattering to them. And I'll make sure it isn't.”
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