Week 3: Congressman Walz’s Office on Healthcare Reform

I got a chance to sit down with Congressman Tim Walz’s Legislative Liason, Judy Bird, to learn more about what’s going on with health care reform.

Medicare plus 5 percent, not good enough

Bird points out that at this point the public option is based on Medicare plus 5 percent – which just means under the option Medicare would reimburse care providers current Medicare rates, plus 5 percent.  But Bird says that’s not nearly enough, because providers are losing money on Medicare patients right now, and an additional 5 percent wouldn’t solve the problem.  She says one of the biggest (of not the biggest) keys to successful healthcare reform is payment reform – meaning that healthcare providers are paid more for giving better, more valuable care, not just for providing a higher number of services.

 A big victory for payment reform advocates, including Mayo Clinic

The way the legislation is written now, in order for the Medicare payment reform to be taken out, two-thirds of congress would have to vote to take it out.  Bird says that’s extremely unlikely.

Here’s Bird on the Democrats goal when it comes to the public option:

Bird says it’s unclear what a public option will look like, and that that’s being focused on the senate side currently, not the house, yet.  She says whether Walz would support depends on how it would work for Minnesota healthcare providers.  She says public option or not, there are a lot of positive, bipartisan provisions in the legislation being floated around right now.

Here are some of the positives in her view:




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