Will Congress have to give up Medicare payment control?

July 17, 2009
Sara Michael

A new battle over executive versus legislative power may be shaping up.

It's quite a perk and a campaign tool for Congress: setting Medicare reimbursement rates for their local hospitals, doctors, and home healthcare centers. (Take, for example, Alaska Republican Ted Stevens, who managed to secure a permanent 35% increase in Medicare payments for Alaska physicians. How's that for constituent services?)

Now, President Obama is considering taking that power away from Congress, potentially shifting the control to an independent entity, according to the Washington Post.

An advisory group might be better willing and able to tackle the skyrocketing Medicare spending. The House's healthcare proposal announced this week doesn't include ways to stem future Medicare costs.

But opponents argue that Congress will be held accountable even if the power is taken away, so they should be able to protect the interests of their constituents. What do you think?

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