Kent Conrad “Infuriated” By Obama “Reneging” On Medicare Deal
One of the price tags Senator Kent Conrad had for ignoring his constituents and voting for Obamacare was the so-called “Frontier Amendment” which would have increased Medicare reimbursement payments in North Dakota by $65 million. Given that his vote for Obamacare may well be the reason why Senator Conrad chose to retire rather than run for re-election again in a state where the health care bill is anything but popular, the President now “reneging” on the deal (as Conrad puts it) has left him “infuriated.”
“In life and in Washington, you can’t make commitments and then renege on them,” Conrad said in an interview with the Great Plains Examiner. “It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work with me. I don’t expect people to make commitments and then renege on them.
“And I’m being very diplomatic in my reaction. If I said how I feel, I’m not sure it would be printable in a family paper.”
The Frontier States Amendment, which raised the Medicare reimbursement levels of five rural states, was included on a list of budget cuts proposed several months ago by the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives.
President Obama followed up on Sept. 19 by presenting his $3 trillion deficit-reduction plan, which called for $248 billion in cuts to Medicare and the end of the Frontier Amendment in 2013.
Unless senators and representatives of rural states lobby successfully to change the minds of their colleagues, the amendment may be short-lived.
“I’m very concerned,” Conrad said. “It’s one thing when it’s just in the House’s proposal, but it’s a different thing when the White House chimes in. I consider it a breach.”
Kent Conrad joined with Senator John Hoeven in calling on the “super congress” to reinstate the Frontier Amendment. “At a time when the nation’s budget crisis demands the most efficient use of every taxpayer dollar, some are making the argument that Medicare reimbursement for North Dakota’s health care providers – who have historically delivered health outcomes twice as good at half the cost to the patient – should be cut,” the Senators said in a joint press release emailed to me this afternoon. “With health care costs threatening to crush family and government budgets, North Dakota’s providers should be emulated, not penalized.”
Sadly, this is the sort of thing that happens when government runs health care. In a free market, prices reflect supply and demand. Goods and services are priced so that customers can afford them, with competition among suppliers providing an equilibrium for prices. In a government-controlled environment we must rely on the government to set prices appropriately.
Which, as we can see from this debacle, doesn’t happen very well.
The federal government already cannot afford Medicaid program despite underpaying for services provided by the program in many parts of the country. Already many health care providers – most notably elements of the famous Mayo clinics – are turning away Medicare patients, and as government price rationing (and that’s the appropriate term for this) gets worse more providers will be forced to make that decision.
Some will see this as an excuse to expand government’s involvement in health care even further, perhaps even taking it over. In truth, it’s why Americans need to pay for their own health care.
Better to face the chance that you may not be able to afford all the health care you need than to be stuck in a government program where, thanks to rationing, you can’t get what you need at any price.Tags: frontier amendment, John Hoeven, Kent Conrad, medicare, North Dakota News