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Facts Matter

The Washington Post has a concise breakdown of what the House health care reform proposal includes for Medicare beneficiaries:

Comprehensive health-care legislation approved by three House committees include changes to the Medicare program for 45 million elderly and disabled people. The bills:

– Extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by five years.

– Waive all co-payments on preventive services.

– Provide 50 percent discounts on brand-name prescriptions in the coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.” Eliminate the gap entirely within 12 years.

– Eliminate 14 percent in “overpayments” to Medicare Advantage plans over 10-year period; pay $10 billion in bonuses to high-quality plans.

– Increase reimbursements to primary-care doctors, general practitioners and psychiatrists by 5 percent.

– Reduce payments to skilled-nursing homes and rehabilitation centers by $15 billion over the next decade.

– Pay medical professionals for counseling patients about end-of-life options.

– Reduce payments to providers that have patients with high hospital readmission rates.

– Grant biologic therapies 12 to 14 years of market protection before a generic version can seek Food and Drug Administration approval.

– Cancel a proposed 21 percent cut in physician reimbursements, estimated to cost $228 billion over 10 years.

SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office, House Ways and Means Committee, Kaiser Family Foundation

The Senate Special Committee on Aging has prepared a two-page Fact and Fiction analysis, which should be mandatory reading for Town Hall questioners. Some of the issues it addresses include:

The House health care reform bill would require doctors to give seniors “suicide counseling.”

This is FICTION.

The House proposal does not tell seniors how to die, nor urge doctors to do so. The proposal empowers seniors to voluntarily make their own decisions on end-of-life care in advance, in consultation with a trusted physician. Part of planning for the future could be creating a living will that includes your wishes for the end of life, so that your instructions are followed to the letter. No matter what your wishes are, the health reform proposal will not take any of those choices away from you. In fact, it helps to make sure that your choices are respected.

Health care reform will lead to rationing.

This is FICTION.

There’s no bill or proposal in Congress that would ration health care. We do need to reexamine the way that we pay for health care in this country. Thus far, the proposals are focused on paying for value and quality of care over volume of services. Under our current system, some providers are incentivized to run duplicative tests and over-order expensive treatment, though these procedures might not be what the patient needs to get better. An improved health care system will lead to smarter health care choices, but that does not mean it will limit your options. If you have private insurance now, your care is already limited when your insurance company decides what procedures to pay for and which doctors to cover. Insurance companies can deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition. And they can make payments and premiums prohibitively high for American families. Congress is working to minimize these denials and barriers to quality health care.

Source: NCPSSM

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