During a Health Subcommittee Hearing on Competition in Medicare, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) busted Republicans for trying to elimate competition in a Medicare program to raise prices on consumers to benefit corporations.
During his opening statement for a Health Subcommittee Hearing on Competition in Medicare, Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee Jim McDermott (D-WA) called out the fallacy of the hearing and of modern Republicans’ ideas about “competition”, charging that they are actually going to put a halt to the existing program for competitive bidding for medical equipment, reduce competition, and increase costs for Medicare and beneficiaries.
From Congressman McDermott’s prepared remarks, he started off questioning the entire point of the hearing, which is an excellent observation, “We are here today for a hearing about improving competition in Medicare. But I can’t help but wonder what this hearing is really trying to accomplish.Because if this hearing were about competition, we would be looking carefully at how to drive down prices and get a handle on healthcare costs. This would mean reducing waste and overpayments to industries that are profiting at the expense of the American public.”
This, by the way, is exactly what the Obama administration has done — reduce waste and overpayments, going after fraud.
… (T)he Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) released an updated annual report showing that, for the second year in a row, anti-fraud efforts have recovered more than $4.1 billion in fraudulent Medicare payments. Compare this to just $2.14 billion recovered in FY 2008. Prosecutions are way up too: the number of individuals charged with fraud increased from 821 in fiscal year 2008 to 1,430 in fiscal year 2011 – nearly a 75 percent increase.
But naturally, since these are Republican proposals, they aren’t actually going to do what their title suggests they do. Rep. McDermott said, “Unfortunately, the proposals that we will hear this morning won’t control costs. Instead, they are designed to appease the very interests that benefit from waste in the system and contribute to higher healthcare spending. We are going to discuss ways to revise Medicare’s competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment. Specifically, we will hear about a proposal that would put a halt to the existing program, reduce competition, and ultimately increase costs for Medicare and beneficiaries This is ironic, because I remember when it was Republicans who were champions of competitive bidding. It was a Republican Congress that first introduced the concept to Medicare as a demonstration project in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. And it was a Republican Congress that expanded the program in 2003 as part of the prescription drug legislation.”
Republicans have disguised a piece of legislation as cost controlling but what it really does is increase costs by providing a benefit to big business. What Republicans mean when they talk about regulations harming the economy is that regulations that help ordinary people are lowering corporate profits.
The idea isn’t to control costs to costs for beneficiaries; it is to increase profits for corporations by allowing them to price gouge on equipment. Those increased prices are passed on to consumers.
Republicans are opposing competition and the free market. That is what the Republican Party really stands for.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.