December 10, 2009
Dear Senator Landrieu.
RetireSafe strongly opposes efforts to change the mission of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) from a Congressional advisory body to an Executive Branch decision-making entity. This move would transfer control from the elected Senators and Representatives who answer to their local constituents, to Executive Branch appointees who will only respond to the political whims of those who appointment them. The local differences and options that are critical to the deliverance of high quality, efficient healthcare will not be considered by these Washington appointed officials.
Under this proposed legislation the critical lines of communication between seniors and their elected Members of Congress concerning health care issues will be severed. This disconnect will only add to the existing disparities between service and costs that already exist in different states and regions. While MedPAC has played a key role in helping guide Congress in developing Medicare policy, Medicare payment policy is exceedingly complex, and its impact is deeply personal. RetireSafe strongly believes that Congress got it right in creating MedPAC as an advisory body, and that the Commission has performed this function very well. Members of Congress often adopt MedPAC’s recommendations, but only after exercising independent judgment in consultation with their constituents. After all, that is Congress’ job – assessing the impact of policy on people – and deciding what is best.
RetireSafe believes that creating a base-closure type process for Medicare cuts, outside of any Congressional input, with the requirement then for Congress to be forced to accept all or none of the MedPAC recommendations is simply the wrong approach. Treatment decisions so critically important to the very health of every older American must be made in consultation with Congress.
RetireSafe strongly urges Congress to retain its sole authority to legislate on significant Medicare payment policy changes, and to reaffirm MedPAC’s critical role as a trusted advisor. Health care is a local issue, and your local community hospitals want their elected officials, who they know and trust, to do what is best for their communities. While MedPAC includes many respected professionals with the best of intentions, RetireSafe and it’s over 400,000 supporters oppose substituting MedPAC’s one size fits all technical judgment for the collected local wisdom of elected officials.
Thair Phillips, President