Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bay State Boondoggle (Obamacare Update)

Congressman Morgan Griffith seems to have adopted a reculer pour mieux sauter approach to his commitment to getting Obamacare repealed before it goes into effect. At least a one-splinter-at-a-time approach seems likely to eliminate some of the most atrocious aspects of Obamacare. This one is getting bipartisan support, according to Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

"As we discuss federal spending and policies that should reflect common-sense American values, I should point out that the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – includes a provision that doesn’t treat each of the respective States equally.

Before he was sworn in to serve as our Secretary of State, then-Senator John Kerry (D-MA) had a Medicare provision added to Obamacare that allowed for Medicare wage index changes to be paid for out of a national pool of money instead of out of each State’s allocation. Urban hospitals in a State cannot get paid less than rural hospitals. If a State – like Massachusetts – has just one rural hospital receiving a special rural reimbursement rate, every hospital in that State receives the higher reimbursement.

Massachusetts’ Nantucket Cottage Hospital is a 19-bed hospital on an island where the median home price is more than $1 million. This hospital pays more in wages – perhaps because of the wealth of the island’s inhabitants and visitors – than your typical hospital in Virginia’s Ninth District. The Nantucket Cottage Hospital receives the higher reimbursement rate, and accordingly, so do all of Massachusetts’ hospitals. Because of Senator Kerry’s provision, Virginia’s Ninth District – with a median income of less than $40,000 – is helping to pay for the health care of Massachusetts’ residents and visitors.

This doesn’t seem right to me. Does it seem right to you?

The good news is last week, a bill was introduced in the Senate that would repeal Senator Kerry’s provision and reverse this problematic and unfair windfall – the “Bay State Boondoggle.” It has already collected bipartisan support, including the support of Senator Mark Warner (D-VA).

I’m told that the House Committee on Ways and Means is working on legislation to repeal the provision. I will be sure to work for this and other common-sense proposals to improve the Obama administration’s health care law."

It's always a pleasure to be able to thank Senator Warner, too, for his good work.