The Republican Party insists that it has been shut out of the health care reform process by the Obama administration. This is clearly not the case. It’s all spelled out clearly and distinctly, on the web. It is because of this brand new transparency, brought to all of us via the White House's website, that we can examine just what the Republicans have brought to the table as we discuss the urgently crucial need for health care reform.
In my opinion, the Republicans’ concerns which have been contributed to this health care reform bill have more to do with policing the costs and expenditures of Medicare and Medicaid than reforming the insurance companies, which brought us to this health care cost crisis in the first place.
At this point, the battle for health care reform rages on in front of the television cameras, allowing all of us to see what solutions are being presented and by whom. The American people are watching, for the most part in utter disbelief, as this power struggle between the two parties, the Democrats in power, and the Republicans who want the power back, unfolds.
Let’s look at the website now and see what the Republicans have brought to the plan; they have clearly been invited to sit down.
The President’s final proposal blends both House and Senate bills:
* Personal responsibility incentives: health insurance premiums will vary, based on participation in employer wellness programs. these are employer based (Sources: H.R. 3468, (Castle Bill); H.R. 4038,(Republican Substitute bill); H.R. 3970,(Kirk bill),"Coverage, Prevention and Reform Act")
* Advances medical liability reform through grants to states: Jump-start and evaluate medical liability reform to put patient safety first, prevent medical errors, and reduce liability premiums. (Sources: S. 1783, (Enzi bill); H.R. 3400, (Republican Study Committee bill); H.R. 4529, (Ryan bill); S. 1099, (Burr-Coburn, Ryan-Nunes bill)
* Extends dependent coverage to age 26: Gives young adults new options.(Sources: H.R. 4038, (Republican Substitute bill); H.R. 3970, (Kirk bill)
* Allows automatic enrollment by employers in health insurance: Allows employee to opt out. (Sources: House Republican Substitute; H.R. 3400, (Republican Study Committee bill); "Coverage, Prevention, and Reform Act" )
* Mechanisms to improve quality. ( Sources: H.R. 4529, S. 1099, H.R. 3400, Republican study bill; S. 1783, (Enzi bill)
The Presidents proposal includes many other Republican plans, to combat waste, fraud and abuse in government:
* Comprehensive sanctions database. Allows for law enforcement access to information relating to past sanctions on health care providers, suppliers, and related entities. (Source: H.R. 3400, “Empowering Patients First Act” (Republican Study Committee bill.)
* Registration and background checks of billing agencies and individuals. To decrease dishonest billing practices in the Medicare program. This will reduce fraud, and also allows for the exclusion from the Medicare program of individuals who have filed false claims , (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)
* Expanded access to the Health Care Data Bank allows for broad review by peer organizations and includes criminal penalties for misuse. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)
* Liability of All Medicare Administration Contractors, to insure that all claims made by excluded individuals are not paid by any agencies for programs or services denied. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act.”)
* Community Mental Health Centers, with strict standards set, so that Medicare or the taxpayers are not taken advantage of. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)
* Limiting Debt Relief due to Bankruptcies of Fraudulent Health Care Providers and Suppliers. Will assist in the recovery of monies owed to the Secretary due to over-payments. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)
* Real time data review provided by the technology industry. This will assist in the quick identification of payments in order to prevent fraudulent and wasteful claims.
(Source: Roskam Amendment offered in House Ways & Means Committee markup)
* Illegal Distribution of Medicare and Medicaid Beneficiary Identification or Billing Privileges. Fraudulent billing to Medicare and Medicaid costs taxpayers millions of dollars yearly. Individuals who gain access to personal information of beneficiaries with false incentives, and, with the purpose to sell or distribute that information, will be strongly sanctioned with possible jail time. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)
* Items and Study of Universal product Numbers Claim Forms for Selected services. To study and issue a report to Congress that would address whether the assignment of the UPNs would help improve more efficient operation of Medicare and detect abuse. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”, Roskam Amendment offered in House Ways & Means Committee markup)
The American people are not as worried about who is in charge of this health care bill, as they are about what would be the best way to move forward to immediate results. Every day that passes takes us further away from the relief that health care reform could bring to this failing economy and to the personal lives of all Americans. The people want the best combination of both bills proposed by the House and the Senate, including a robust public option. The public option would insure true competition for the insurers, forcing them to lower their profit margins. The American taxpayers demand the best quality, the most coverage, and the greatest relief from their out-of-pocket expenses. Meanwhile, the fight for single-payer also rages on, as we all continue to desire a seat at this table.