Friday, November 02, 2012
(Last modified: 2012-11-02 21:04:23)

Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Dear Editor,


In the 10/27/12 issue of the Plain Talk, Representative Phil Roe reported concerns over the challenges of the coming year. He first cites the approaching fiscal cliff that was put in place by a bi-partisan deal between Republicans and Democrats. He expresses equal concern about the future of health care.


Representative Roe cites the Kaiser Family Foundation's report of insurance premium rises of 4% and that this increase is due, in part, to the Affordable Care Act. Well, good for the Affordable Care Act! In a report from ABC news, dated 09/27/11, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported an increase in 2011 of 9% and an increase of 113% over the past decade. By my arithmetic, that means that the rising insurance rates have been slowed by more than half due, in part, to the ACA.

Next, Rep. Roe describes the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) as an unaccountable new bureaucracy that can effectively ration Medicare Services. In fact, the IP AB is specifically prohibited by law from recommending any policies that ration care, raise taxes, increase premiums or cost sharing, restrict benefits, or modify who is eligible for Medicare. As far as the IP AB proposing spending reductions that can go into effect without congress' approval, Congress has the power to accept or reject such recommendations. If Congress rejects these recommendations, Congress must either enact policies that achieve equivalent savings or let the Secretary of Health and Human Services follow the recommendations. The Congress has the responsibility to act. Remember that during this election because we, the people, decide who Congress is going to be.

Rep. Roe expresses concerns about "Medicare's outdated Sustainable Growth Rate" reimbursement formula for physicians. This formula went into effect as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. If the formula is outdated, seems like an elected U.S. Representative would be just the sort of person who bears the responsibility to update it, not just complain that it is outdated.

Finally, Rep. Roe reports that the ACA took more than $100 billion from Medicare to help pay for a new entitlement program and an expansion of Medicaid. One would think that the Republicans would have opposed the cuts. The fact is that those Medicare savings were achieved through reduced provider reimbursements and curbed waste, fraud, and abuse, not benefit cuts, and are included in the House Republicans' Fiscal Year 2013 budget, which was written by Paul Ryan, the same budget plan Mitt Romney has said he would sign as president if it reached his desk.


Rep. Roe is right about one thing, Health Care Reform is too important to get wrong. All the facts should be reported and considered, not just partisan statements to promote either Republicans or Democrats. That's not their job in Washington. Their job is helping all the people, not just a few in certain groups, like political parties.


Ted Marshall


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