Baucus Provisions in Final Budget Protect Seniors, Low-income Americans
FY2009 blueprint also contains reserve fund for comparative effectiveness effort to improve efficiency, quality of nation’s health care system
Washington, DC – The final conference report on the Fiscal Year 2009 budget, approved by the
Senate today, includes a number of measures championed by Senate Finance Committee
Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to improve the nation’s health care system – from protecting
seniors from unscrupulous marketing by private plans that serve Medicare beneficiary, to
ensuring the availability of health care to low-income Americans through Medicaid, to learning
what treatments work best and most efficiently to keep Americans healthy.
“More and more Americans are struggling to make health care fit into their own budgets, so it was important to pay attention to the health care system in Congress’s budget this year,” Baucus said. “I intend for the Finance Committee to make a major push for comprehensive health care reform next year, but in the meantime I wanted to direct dollars toward helping low-income Americans keep their health care, protecting seniors as they buy insurance plans offering Medicare benefits, and improving the health care system across the board.”
A Baucus amendment to the budget creates a deficit-neutral reserve fund for legislation to implement marketing reforms in the Medicare program. Baucus and members of the Finance
panel met with leaders of the nation’s major insurance companies in March of this year to discuss
banning unscrupulous marketing by Medicare plan and their agents, including “cold calls” and
financial inducements to pressure seniors to enroll. The Finance Chairman’s amendment
provides a reserve funds to codify proposals from America’s Health Insurance Plans and
provisions from the rule promulgated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to
protect seniors in law from shady marketing practices.
On Medicaid, Baucus included in the budget a Sense of the Senate amendment underscoring the
importance of the program as America’s health care safety net. Specifically, the Baucus
amendment expresses the Sense of the Senate that administrative regulations should not
undermine the guarantee of health insurance coverage Medicaid provides or shift Medicaid cost
burdens to state or local governments.
Also included in the budget are two reserve funds key to the Finance Committee’s health care
efforts this year. One reserve fund would promote comparative effectiveness efforts throughout
the health care system. Comparative effectiveness initiatives can improve the quality of health
care Americans receive by gathering and distributing information about the effectiveness of
different health care treatments, and Baucus and Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (DN.
D.) have indicated their intention to introduce legislation on the topic this year. Another reserve
fund allows for improvements to low-income subsidy programs in Medicare – laying the
groundwork for a strong Medicare bill currently under negotiation by Baucus and Finance
# # #
Next Article Previous Article