What: All Issues : Health Care : Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs : H R 1. Prescription Drug Benefit/Sixth and Final Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Drop Provisions in the Conference Report Which Would Allow Private Health Plans to Compete Directly With Medicare by 2010.
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H R 1. Prescription Drug Benefit/Sixth and Final Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Drop Provisions in the Conference Report Which Would Allow Private Health Plans to Compete Directly With Medicare by 2010.
house Roll Call 650     Nov 20, 2003
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

When Medicare was created in 1965, prescription drugs were not an essential component of patient care. However, medical advancements in recent decades have enabled doctors to treat a wide range of diseases and ailments with prescription drugs. But the costs of prescription drugs have skyrocketed and many seniors have been unable to afford the drugs they need to stay healthy. In an effort to contain prescription drug costs, legislation was adopted by the House and Senate earlier in the congressional session which would provide federal subsidies to HMOs and other private insurance companies to provide prescription drug coverage to seniors. Additionally, the House version of the legislation would, by 2010, allow private insurers to compete directly with the Medicare program to provide health benefits traditionally covered by Medicare (the Senate's version of the bill did not include this language). After the House and Senate completed action on their prescription drug bills, a conference committee was convened to reconcile differences between the two versions of the bill. (Note: The House and Senate versions were not limited to prescription drug coverage. Both versions included provisions which would alter-and in the view of Progressives fundamentally undermine-the Medicare program.) In an effort to influence the policy debate within the conference committee, Representative Hooley (D-OR) motioned to instruct House conferees-those lawmakers selected by the House leadership to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill in conference committee negotiations with the Senate-to drop language in the House bill which would allow private health plans to compete directly with Medicare by 2010. In the view of Progressives, allowing private plans to compete directly with Medicare would reduce the quality of health coverage for the nation's seniors. In contrast to private insurance plans-which can drop an individual's coverage on a whim, limit a patient's treatment options to only those doctors and hospitals that have been approved by the insurance company, and provide unequal coverage to individuals based demographic or geographic data-the health coverage provided through Medicare applies equally to all seniors, is never reduced based on one's health needs, and allows seniors to choose their doctor and hospital. Conservatives opposed the motion to instruct because, in their view, allowing private plans to compete directly with Medicare will reduce health care costs and provide seniors with more choices regarding their health coverage. On a party line vote of 201-222, Hooley's motion was defeated and House conferees were not instructed to delete the provisions from the conference report which would allow private insurers to compete directly with Medicare by 2010. (Note: Five other attempts were made by Democrats to prevent competition between Medicare and private insurance companies; see House votes 573, 599, 615, 619, and 637.) hey

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