Weekly Columns

Saving, Protecting & Preserving Medicare

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Washington, March 21, 2012 | comments

The demand for Medicare services is expanding at a very high rate, making future costs unaffordable, and putting our health care security at risk.  As a physician and a lawmaker, I believe our common goal should be to save, protect and preserve Medicare.

Instead of dramatically cutting Medicare dollars, which will lead to decreased quality and access to care, we should be looking at ways to save the program and improve the quality of care we are providing our seniors.

That is why I introduced the Medicare Decisions Accountability Act – legislation that will protect Medicare from harmful cuts by repealing one of the most dangerous aspects created by the Affordable Care Act – the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).  The IPAB directly inserts the government into seniors’ health care decision-making process, and it will limit access to care. Made up of 15 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats appointed by the president, the IPAB is tasked with meeting a budget and making cuts to Medicare.

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will take a very important vote on my legislation to repeal the IPAB.  We must act to save Medicare from bankruptcy, but we must do it in the right way.  IPAB is not the answer to saving Medicare.  In fact, the IPAB will further harm care to seniors by limiting what treatment doctors are allowed to give their patients.  This will result in seniors being denied access to the medical care they need, and it will also put the government in between patients and their doctor.

Chairman Ryan’s budget blueprint – The Path to Prosperity, introduced this week –   also recognizes the threat IPAB proposes to Medicare; therefore, his budget eliminates the board. The budget notes that the president’s health care law empowers bureaucrats at the expense of patients and providers, setting up an unelected board tasked with cutting Medicare through formulaic rationing. Alternatively, the president’s budget proposes doubling down and strengthening the IPAB to ration even more care.

IPAB is not the only contrast between the two budgets. In President Obama’s budget, he is proposing $1.5 trillion in new taxes, raising tax rates across the board on small business owners and entrepreneurs. We will not be able to create jobs if the government is acting as a roadblock to the job creators.

In The Path to Prosperity, Chairman Ryan spurs economic growth with bold tax reform – eliminating complexity for individuals and families and boosting competitiveness for American job creators.  For example, it simplifies the tax code by consolidating the current six individual income tax brackets into just two brackets of 10 percent and 25 percent.   Additionally, Ryan’s budget reduces the corporate tax rate of 35 percent, which will soon be the highest rate in the developed world, to a much more competitive 25 percent.  His budget also rejects raising taxes on hard-working Americans.

These important points remain clear: the government must work to protect Medicare and seniors access to care, and the government must live within its means while keeping taxes low. We cannot allow the IPAB to go into effect because it will harm care to our seniors. We cannot continue to borrow 40 cents on every dollar because this is not sustainable and it puts our national security at risk.  We must pass solutions that reward hardworking taxpayers.

Congress needs to repeal the IPAB and they need to pass a budget. To date, the Senate has not passed a budget in three years. Yet they continue to spend with no accountability whatsoever.  Unless the government acts, Medicare and Social Security remain threatened for current seniors and will not be there for younger families and future generations.


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