As this blog reported in April, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda and her Kansas colleagues in the House of Representatives voted to prevent President George W. Bush's proposed massive $13 billlion cuts to Medicaid- a bill that passed 349-62 with the support of every single Democrat and two-thirds of the Republicans.
Slashing spending on a program that is designed to make sure the very poorest Americans can afford medical attention when they need it is one of those fundamentally bad ideas that even the viciously partisan House can come together on.
It isn't definite that the cuts have been stopped, however, because the bill now much make it's way through the Senate. We don't yet know for certain how both of our senators will vote (Sen. Pat Roberts seems to indicate he will vote to prevent the cuts).
Now, even after the House rebuked the Bush Administration on Medicaid cuts, there is the potential for equally devastating cuts to Medicare, which opens the door to a horrifying new problem for the very poorest and most needy Americans:
As reimbursement rates dwindle, doctors and other health care providers must decide whether to reduce the number of Medicare and Medicaid patients they treat to cover their costs and make a profit.Congresswoman Boyda certainly makes it clear she doesn't think that's a situtation that can be allowed to occur:
She, of course, knows first hand the power of the healthcare industry- Boyda was an executive in Big Pharma before running for Congress. It gives her a particularly useful perspective as this fight continues.
Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., said primary care physicians and other doctors haven't seen an increase in Medicare reimbursement rates since 2001 and are now facing a 9.9 percent decrease.
"Medicare never reimbursed very well to begin with and now there's this decrease," Boyda said.
What is alarming to Boyda is the amount of government subsidies received by the health insurance industry — which she says totals $65 billion over five years. She said those subsidies should be halted and the money used to reimburse primary care physicians and other health care providers.
She said the power wielded by the health insurance industry influences the decisions — and lack of action — by Congress to reform the health care system.
"That's why nothing changes," Boyda said. "I can't describe to you how powerful they are."
We'll hope Republicans join together with Democrats again and prevent irresponsible cuts to Medicare and, when the President vetoes their bill, enough of them will hold together and override his mixed-up priorities.