Senators concerned over healthcare reform report

WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said serious concerns are raised about the Senate healthcare reform bill in a new independent analysis that indicates the legislation would fail to contain healthcare costs and could result in healthcare shortages for many Americans.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary issued a 34-page analysis of the healthcare reform bill crafted by Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Senate has been debating the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR.3590) for the past two weeks.

The senators claim the report raises serious concerns about the Senate healthcare reform plan, indicating that major provisions in the 2,074-page measure could increase national healthcare expenditures by more than $234 billion, jeopardize access to Medicare coverage for seniors and lead small business employers to drop health insurance coverage for their workers.

Before the Senate began its debate of the Reid heath care bill, Cochran and Wicker signed a letter asking Reid to submit his plan to the CMS Office of the Actuary for analysis.  The letter asserted that all Senators should have the CMS analysis, in addition to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate review, before considering the Reid plan.

The CMS report on HR.3590 states the projected savings from Medicare cuts in the Reid plan are “unrealistic” and “unrelated to the providers’ costs of furnishing services to beneficiaries, according to the lawmakers. It also warns that healthcare shortages are probable because “providers might tend to accept more patients who have private insurance (with relatively attractive payment rates) and fewer Medicare and Medicaid patients, exacerbating existing access problems for the latter group.”

In terms of costs, the CMS report says that under HR.3590, national health expenditures would increase by $234 billion and eventually amount to about 20.9 percent—more than one out of every five dollars—of the Gross Domestic Product. The nation currently spends about $2.5 trillion a year on healthcare, or about 16 percent of the GDP.

The CMS report also states that the Senate reform bill could result in an estimated 17 million workers losing employer-sponsored insurance coverage so that their employees could qualify for the subsidized coverage offered through the bill’s insurance exchange program.

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