Stephen Davidson in Huffington Post on What Winning Means for Medicare and More

in Faculty, Health Sector, Markets, Public Policy & Law, News
November 19th, 2012

Stephen M DavidsonThe Huffington Post‘s latest opinion piece by Boston University School of Management’s Stephen M. Davidson is titled What Winning Means” and explores compromise, Congress, and Obama’s powers post-election to impact healthcare and more. Davidson is Professor of Markets, Public Policy, and Law at the School of Management and author of the book Still Broken: Understanding the U.S. Health Care System.

An excerpt from “What Winning Means” appears here:

…Now that the 2012 election is behind us, the first big question is whether or not the Republicans, having lost the White House and the Senate, will follow that tradition. Even more, it is whether John Boehner, as Speaker of the House can keep the members on his rightward fringe in check and be able both to craft compromises with the Democrats and to deliver enough votes that, when added to those of House Democrats, legislation can pass that moves the country forward on the many problems we face. If he cannot, how will the president respond? And what will he be able to do on his own, without legislation, to address those vexing problems…

On Medicare, both candidates proposed cutting spending–they even agreed on the amount. But the president, wanting to preserve the program’s value for seniors and others who depend on Medicare, proposed doing it without reducing benefits. Instead, he would save millions by ending the windfall that private insurers earn from the Medicare Advantage program and by reducing payments to some providers. He would also use Medicare policy to stimulate providers of services to find ways to improve the quality of care and keep down the costs. Republicans defined the Medicare problem more simply. They just want to limit federal spending, which they would do by capping it at a fixed amount and distributing those funds to Medicare beneficiaries in the form of vouchers. Then, the beneficiaries would apply the vouchers toward the purchase of coverage in the private health insurance marketplace. The main problem, of course, is that Republicans cannot guarantee that the voucher would cover all the services people need or that it would keep up with the rising cost of insurance. Inevitably, beneficiaries would wind up with less coverage than they have now.

It is fair to say that, to the extent that voters focused on policy issues like these, the majority voted for the president’s proposals and rejected those of Governor Romney and his fellow Republicans. So, why doesn’t the election result entitle the president to act on these matters as he said he would? And, to the extent that the Congress must act (e.g., on tax and spending legislation), why doesn’t it leave members of the House and Senate to make adjustments around the edges? Isn’t that what winning means?

Read the full opinion piece here.