The Senate version is just as threatening.
...It all starts with the sweeping power that the Senate bill gives to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The agency will be given the authority to unilaterally write new rules on when medical devices and drugs can be used, and how they should be priced. In particular, the Obama team wants to give the agency the power to decide when a cheaper medical option will suffice for a given problem and, in turn, when Medicare only has to pay for the least costly alternative.
Umnhhhh...so far, not entirely unreasonable. But then there's this:
...Now the Obama team will use murky provisions embedded in the Senate bill to subtly attain in law those powers they couldn't more artfully acquire in court. In fact, the bill lets Medicare seek almost any restrictive payment authority it wants from a Medicare Commission established for the purposes of cost control.
If Congress believes Medicare has overreached, it has to pass a separate law to explicitly block the agency's newly acquired powers. These provisions are deliberately designed to leverage Congress's inability to act in a timely fashion.
We could add that "donations to re-election funds" could be used to move the process in a timely fashion. Of course, we're not THAT cynical. Uh-huh...
The Senate health-care bill also exempts Medicare's actions from judicial review, taking away the right of patients to sue the government. Unlike existing Medicare coverage laws, patients won't have the ability to appeal any of the decisions of this new Medicare Commission.
Ironically, private health insurers must comply with new patient appeals rights under the Senate bill. The government has exempted itself from the same sort of protections.
It ought to be crystal-clear that centralizing medical decisions in the hands of "commissions" under the control of Congress is foolish, at best.
You want Dave Obey "helping" your surgeon? Pass Obamacare!
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