The Best Health Care Idea All Year

Out of almost nowhere has come momentum for a proposal to create a bipartisan entitlement and tax commission to draft proposals to control the long-term costs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The idea would require the Congress to quickly vote the recommendations up or down via a super majority vote.

The idea isn’t new–proposals for a such a commission have been around for a longtime.

What is new is the bipartisan enthusiasm that is growing–particularly in the Senate. Coming out of the Budget Committee, and Chairman Kent Conrad and Ranking Republican Judd Gregg, the idea is picking up bipartisan steam with, among others, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressing general support for the idea.

A number of Senators have threatened to tie their votes to raise the deficit ceiling to establishing such a commission.

If the recent Democratic health care bills have made one thing crystal clear it is that the Congress is wholly incapable of dealing with cost containment under present circumstances.

Robert Laszweski has been a fixture in Washington health policy circles for the better part of three decades. He currently serves as the president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates of Alexandria,
Virginia. Before forming HPSA in 1992, Robert served as the COO, Group Markets, for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. You can read more of his thoughtful analysis of healthcare industry trends at The Health Policy and Marketplace Blog, where this post first appeared.

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23 replies »

  1. BTW, Private insurance companies ARE in business to make money and not pay bills if they can keep from it. Anyone who doesn’t believe this is simply burying their head in the sand. There are over 150 years of business proof and some of us DO learn from history.
    Hooray for the Health Care Reform and Hooray for a strong bi-partisan watchdog group to track it!

  2. This opportunity for a useful bill to pass into law is an opportunity all Americans should support with the same zeal they have for their favorite sports team. Building strong checks and balances into a system is a GOOD thing!
    Thank you for posting this!

  3. Sadly we see commentary from the uninformed that we are creating a socialist society. No we aren’t we are only proposing to do what our forefathers asked and established. Setting equity in the system. Millions of retired military reservist who have given the best part of their lives to our country often go without insurance between the years following their reserve retirement and their 60th birthday. This group has to get insurance from the private offering which excludes most of their injuries as pre-existing conditions. I take it that this ignorant share of Americans has no concern for the people who have provided them their freedom they so happily squander.

  4. Nate, you don’t need to click any heels. The three items I listed are in HR 3962 and/or its CBO reports (both are publicly available).

  5. Paolo you can click your heels as many times as you like your not going to end up in Kansas. If you really think the house bill will do anything you list I doubt you will ever see reality again your so far gone.
    They have these books full of things that happened in the past, you might want to pick one up some day and see how 44 years of Congressional intent turned out.

  6. Nate, Congress could easily pass a bill with 99%+ approval. The bill could consist of a statement encouraging Americans to exercise. Such a bill might even get all 435 votes in the House.
    However, the purpose of Congress is not to pass bills that everybody likes. The “actual purpose” of the House bill is to provide insurance to 36 million uninsured, to provide additional coverage to ~20 million under-insured, and to provide security to millions more who may lose coverage because of financial hardship or pre-existing conditions. This is something that neither the GOP plan nor your plan addresses.

  7. “Why do people view highway construction as good government,”
    Marc do you consider the Big Dig to be good government? I don’t know anyone that thinks so. Would the highway to no where have been good government?
    You need to seperate your political bias from the actual argument. People don’t consider all government involvement in health care as intrusive, they view the current proposal as intrusive. This is a major difference most people of the left can’t grasp.
    If the government proposed a cost effective health care bill that had an actual purpose and chance of working people would support it. We have yet to see any such bill. i.e. any bill addressing just tort reform and medicare fraud reduction would have 80%+ approval, that is the difference you miss

  8. I agree with Merle. This is not a new argument either. Back during the founders’ days, the “radical” Thomas Paine suggested that each colony sends 30 representatives to congress and he based it on the same argument. The more representatives, the more granular the representation and the harder it is to corrupt it.
    This is not a debate of big vs. small government. The debate is about true and honest representation of the people vs. small but financially powerful special interests.

  9. This is just what we need. Good government should be involved with big programs. Why do people view highway construction as good government, but healthcare as government instrusion?

  10. Now this is what actually you can say a better liberalization and enforcement of ideas to be loaded on the country holders… well if this idea is worth enough to work through, it will surely gets some better results throughout.

  11. Steve you might want to research liverpool panels before you go running off about the right scaring people. Know your history buddy or you bound to end up in a similar panel. If you don’t think it can happen here then look up what our government does to you if you try to drop medicare.
    Is this all a payoff to insurers to stop bringing up MA? Everything in here would seem to imply they are going to continue working with the same couple insurers that aren’t doing that great of a job now and continue under the same payor model.

  12. The debate about big government and a socialist society is currently being aimed at Obama, and specifically government health insurance, but this is not a new problem. Take a look at your pay stub…see that line that says FICA with a big chunk of money taken out? That stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act. You already pay for … Read Moregovernment insurance and it’s called SOCIAL security. They didn’t hide that it was a socialist program when it was established in 1935. So-called news personalities and economic experts are saying that our economy is in recovery. Truthfully, we haven’t recovered from the depression of the 1930’s!!!! Oh, and how do you think the Federal Insurance plan that is Social Security is doing at providing a high quality retirement at minimal cost to tax payers? Aren’t these same social security recipients the ones we are so concerned may starve or freeze to death because they live on such a “fixed” income? So now, you want to support federal insurance for health care? I think I better open a second investment account (in private sector enterprise). The first one to pay my own way when I am no longer capable of earning a living, and the second one to pay for health care without government intervention when they have “fixed” that issue.

  13. People we are moving to a big socialistic government. Thomas Jefferson said “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” Presidents Obama’s version of a socialist utopia; a Paradise for Underachievers.

  14. The concept of a bipartisan commission has great appeal — if everyone on it acts in good faith. Such a commission is a convenient way to insulate politicians from unpopular decisions, and has been used very effectively to close unneeded military bases.
    My fear is that such a commission in healthcare might backfire. The will of the majority of Senators already is being thwarted by a minority. Will reducing the number of decision makers to a small commission get a better result?
    Personally, I’d rather go the other direction and ask the American public their opinions on contentious healthcare issues such as public options, universal coverage, single payer, etc. This could be accomplished by referenda. That way we would enlarge rather than shrink the number of people contributing to a decision.

  15. Hopefully the Democrats and Republicans can work together better on cost containment than they have on reform. We all know that reform could have been a bipartisan effort with good ideas from both sides, but instead we now have a bill that may or may not sneak by the senate.

  16. So now we’re supposed to be impressed with Republicans trying to contain costs after spending months trying to scare old people about death panels?

  17. I’m not sure why it’s so difficult for people to understand that health care is important to anyone with a body: ALL OF US. It shouldn’t be as expensive as it is, and far too many hard-working Americans don’t have health care access. It’s a shame, and I hope something can be worked out relatively quickly.

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