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Breaux: Bipartisanship Necessary To Fix Medicare Finances

(Kaiser Health News) Louisiana Democrat John B. Breaux left the Senate seven years ago, but old habits die hard. Today he fell back easily into his former role of compromise builder as he stressed the need for political common ground to overhaul Medicare next year.
After a House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee hearing to delve into “premium support” models, Breaux held court with reporters and concluded that his own blueprint from 1999 might just do the trick…
The key, Breaux said, is to change the way that health care is delivered in Medicare, to make it more efficient, and then have private health plans and the traditional, government-run program compete, with  federal premium assistance tied to the growth of health care costs, which, he said, would decline over time under a premium support model.
This approach, he said, would make Medicare more like the health care program for federal employees. Beneficiaries would get subsidies from the federal government to join a private or government-run health plan. Indeed, he cited the federal employee plan and Medicare’s prescription drug program as examples of premium support models that work…
Breaux said that Ryan’s plan was a good start, but shared Democrats’ concerns that federal premium help would be insufficient for seniors. He made the case that the model he proposed together with then-Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist in the 1990′s would not shift costs to seniors and could lower overall Medicare costs 12 percent. Those were his own estimates, which he based on greater efficiency from competition between plans and organizing care better.
“The debate should be about a better delivery system that has benefits for seniors,” he said. “It’s not about changing Medicare. It’s about changing the way we give it to people.”
Community: Senator Breaux, you once did me a great favor, but I must disagree with you on a couple of things.
Medicare’s prescription drug plan is a success in its popularity, but it’s an abject failure at bringing down costs, which you say is important. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the insurance companies that provide Part D coverage are prohibited BY LAW from negotiating better prices from the drug companies for the drugs provided.
So I have to ask, sir, are you now a lobbyist for those drug companies? And if you are, why was that information not disclosed in the Kaiser Health News article?
Your statement at the end of the article is typical of the elitist attitude among the power brokers in Washington that you “give” things to us ordinary folks and that we should be grateful to you for your largesse. That, sir, is not the way a democracy runs.
We the people are the government, not you, the elite.
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