Congressional Budget Office Weighs Reform Proposals

Cover Story – Modern Healthcare – December 22/29, 2008

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) laid out scores of ideas last week as a way to help federal lawmakers craft what could become the most sweeping legislation seen in a generation. Healthcare policy experts praised the CBO analysis as a handy reference tool for reform that they believe will serve as a prelude to the main event when lawmakers release an actual bill in 2009.

In one report the CBO addresses our healthcare system that spends with abandon more than $2 trillion a year and showing how it threatens the U.S. The CBO report stresses that a solution would require a variety of approaches, not just a “one size fits all” scheme, such as mandating universal coverage.

A second report lays out more than 115 different options for reform, encompassing a wide swath of issues related to how healthcare is delivered and paid for. Among the options are some that would reduce spending and others that would increase it.

Some of the options that would reduce spending include trimming billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid payments from the provider community. The CBO proposal looks at a proposal to bundle payments for hospital care, a move it found would save $18.6 billion over 10 years. Separately, an option to reduce Medicare payments to hospital with high readmission rates would shed another $9.7 billion.

Editor’s Note:  2009 may bring significant changes to the U.S. healthcare delivery system. Powerful lobbying entities will spend millions to sway 435 people to vote on proposals that benefit special interests.