Ex-Lawmakers Spar at AHIP Conference

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , June 17, 2011

Judd Gregg delivered a more somber message. "Debt is the issue and healthcare is the problem. The patient is in serious fiscal trouble." He said healthcare reform will become just another unfunded liability. "Our unfunded liability for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is already at $81 trillion and healthcare reform will just add to that."

Gregg, who served on the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said he is disappointed that Congress has ignored the commission's recommendation for a Medicare premium support program. The commission was appointed by President Obama to recommend policies to improve the U.S. fiscal situation over the long run. "If we can't address Social Security or Medicare in a serious fashion then we really have no hope of improving America's fiscal well-being."

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Daschle countered that there are other systemic changes that can make a difference. "We need to move away from fee-for-service, volume-based medicine to quality-driven medical care. We need to deal with unnecessary care and we need to create an infrastructure that integrates care."

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