Senators on both sides of the aisle are coming together to beat back an “ill-conceived” experiment sought by the Obama administration that will affect seniors all across the country. Obama’s signature legislative achievement – ObamaCare, gave the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) broad authority to ignore current Medicare laws and change payment rates for a specific group of seniors. The issue at hand concerns the administration’s efforts to alter Medicare’s reimbursement formula by making mandatory provider participation to choose “lower-cost therapies” when prescribing seniors Medicare Part B drugs.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s senior Democrat, said he worried that the proposal “could unintentionally drive seniors toward hospitals,” where treatment is typically more costly and less convenient.
Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, agreed. “The scope of the current proposal seems broader than is typical of demonstration projects,” she said.
That did little to calm bipartisan fears. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, called the administration plan “an ill-conceived experiment” and suggested that it was a form of “human subjects research” for which the government needed the consent of patients.
For a test, said Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, that “seems almost universal.” … The administration plan goes far beyond such a demonstration project, Mr. Toomey said.
“I remain gravely concerned,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.), urging that CMS withdraw the proposal.
The administration’s blatant overreach by finagling existing Medicare laws through ObamaCare has raised concerns from groups that advocate on behalf of seniors’ health services. They worry that the administration’s pilot program will cut access to high-priced drugs that seniors’ desperately need. Despite the concerns expressed by a bipartisan group of Senators and advocacy groups, the Obama administration plans to forge ahead with the controversial pilot program without offering any assurance seniors would not be harmed.
The official, Dr. Patrick H. Conway, a deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, indicated to the Senate Finance Committee that the administration would probably go ahead with its proposal in some form, and he promised that officials would try to prevent any harm to patients.
This just represents the latest example of the Obama Administration’s determination to use their government influence to meddle in the health care market. Instead of forcing seniors to pay more, they should heed advice from members of their own party and put this experiment to bed.