Tuesday, December 31, 2002

GOP: What to expect

Q. What can the industry expect with a Republican controlled Congress?

A. The 108th Congress is sure to have a different look and feel when our industry’s issues are addressed. One area of interest that may receive a conceptual overhaul is competitive bidding. An idea that has a foothold is a previously proposed bipartisan bill that would restructure the Medicare program. With a Republican eye toward smaller government, a main edict of the bill from Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), S.357, is to reduce the government micro-management of the program. The findings driving the Breaux-Frist proposal is Medicare’s (Part A and B) increasing share consumption of the federal budget coupled with the decrease in the number of workers per retiree and the further ratio decline expected with the influx of baby boomers beginning in 2010. An outdated benefit package, the lack of a prescription drug benefit and the limited access to new technologies are also cited as reasons.

What is offered as the solution to these problems is the establishment of a competitive system that will provide Medicare beneficiaries with better and broader health coverage and a greater variety of reasonably priced healthcare options. Based on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP), Medicare+Choice organizations would offer Medicare+Choice plans that include core benefits and plans that would offer additional coverage above the core benefits.

Martin Szmal is dir. of gov’t affairs for Pride Mobility Products. Reach him at 800-800-8586.