Nearly 200 healthcare economists are urging federal lawmakers to reject a premium support model for Medicare and instead “support vigorous implementation” of last year's health reform law.
Economists: Voucher program shifts costs to patients, providers
In all, 193 economists—most of whom are academics at colleges and universities throughout the country—signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that said there are two broad strategies to Medicare expenditures, and the “right” approach can be found in last year's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“It supports research on identifying those procedures that work best,” the letter said. “It emphasizes payment reforms and new ways of organizing delivery of care to slow spending growth while improving care,” it said, adding that the Congressional Budget Office projects that the Affordable Care Act will slow annual growth of per-person Medicare spending over the next decade below the rate of general economic growth.
Last week, House Republicans released their fiscal 2012 budget, which proposes to transform the Medicare program to a premium-support system. That model would give patients a list of health plans from which to choose, while the Medicare program would subsidize the plan.
But in their letter to congressional leaders, the economists said the term “premium support” mislabels a voucher program, which they say will shift costs to consumers. Again citing the CBO, the economists said they are concerned that current proposals would link voucher payments to growth in the Consumer Price Index adjust for population growth. “Because medical care costs are rising much more rapidly than the CPI, this guarantees that the value of the proposed Medicare vouchers would erode over time.”
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