Camp and Upton Seek Information on President Obama's Plans for Medicare

April 20, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - Today U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called on President Obama to provide additional information and guidance on his plans to reform the Medicare program as part of his overall plan to reduce the debt.
 
Discussing President Obama's shared desire to strengthen Medicare, Camp and Upton noted that Obama's speech and revised budget document lacked specific details for how he'd achieve the savings he laid out during his national address - $340 billion in Medicare and Medicaid savings by 2021, $480 billion by 2023, and at least an additional $1 trillion in the subsequent decade.  The Chairmen wrote, "[A]s our Committees seek to reform the Medicare program, we require much more information before we can properly consider the savings targets you have proposed.  We ask that you provide this additional clarification so that we can fully understand and evaluate the new Medicare proposals you have put forward." 
 
The Chairmen, who share jurisdiction over the Medicare Program, specifically asked for President Obama to provide in-depth details about what changes he envisions as being necessary to achieve the savings he described in the speech.  Those areas and a sampling of questions asked by the Chairmen include:
 
The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)
During Wednesday's speech President Obama discussed giving more power to the IPAB, but didn't share specific details regarding how it would reduce Medicare costs.  The Chairmen's letter asked, "What specifically do you mean by "˜giving the IPAB additional tools to improve the quality of care while reducing costs, including allowing it to promote value-based benefit designs?'  Would this require a statutory change given that IPAB is not currently allowed to consider changes to the Medicare benefit package?"
 
Patient Safety
The Chairmen raised questions pertaining to the cost savings associated with an Administration initiative to reduce hospital readmissions and hospital-acquired conditions.  The Chairmen wrote that "[T]he nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the initiative will reduce Medicare spending by roughly $12 billion over the next decade.  Yet your proposal claims this initiative will save $50 billion over this same time period.  What is the source of this estimate and how would your proposal specifically change current law?"
 
Medicare Part D
Discussing the need to reduce Medicare spending, President Obama described several initiatives, including reforms to limit payments for prescription drugs in the Medicare Part D program and prohibiting brand-name companies from entering into "˜pay for delay' agreements with generic companies.   In their letter, the Chairmen asked, "Which specific changes would you make to Medicare Part D and how much do you anticipate each change would save?"
 
Read the full letter here

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