7/21 Erik Paulsen Correspondence Corner : Strengthening Medicare ( Alternative Facts )


PREFACE :
Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.

Today’s topic, H.R. 3163 Medicare Part B Home Infusion Services Temporary Transitional Payment Act.

Tomorrow’s topic, NAFTA and digital trade

In a week when the Senate failed (thankfully) to move on Erik Paulsen’s American Healthcare Reform Act, once again, Congressman Paulsen is left with trying to find something positive to promote the idea that the Republicans are getting things done in Washington.

Thus, Congressman Paulsen responds to Susan from Maple Grove who has written urging him to support H.R. 3163 Medicare Part B Home Infusion Services Temporary Transitional Payment Act.

Shockingly … yes, Congressman Paulsen does support the legislation — as do many other Members … from both parties.

Of course, there are a few facts that Congressman Paulsen didn’t mention and some questions that deserve an answer.

First, note the title of the bill Medicare Part B Home Infusion Services Temporary Transitional Payment Act … funny thing is that Congressman calls his response “Strengthening Medicare” and that this will address Temporary Transitional Payment.

Gosh, so why is this Temporary?

Well, for that let’s turn to the last session of Congress … when there was bipartisan support for H.R.605 – Medicare Home Infusion Site of Care Act of 2015.
Interesting fact — that 2015 bill drew the support of Betty McCollum, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz but not Erik Paulsen.
Yep, 82 bipartisan sponsors for H.R 605 yet Erik Paulsen’s Ways and Means Committee failed to hold a hearing on the bill.

But there was good news last session … the concept of including home infusion services in Medicare was included in the Paulsen-backed 21st Century Cures Act which was enacted in December 2016.
The bad news, that Congressman Paulsen didn’t mention and the reason why the title of the bill says – Temporary Transitional Payment, is that the start date is January 1, 2021.
That’s bad if you are one of the people currently living with primary immunodeficiency diseases (PI) and there is a little bit more bad news that Congressman Paulsen doesn’t mention — to pay for the Cures Act, Congress significantly reduced reimbursement for the cost of drugs. Thus, the fact is that consumers through their copays will be paying more so as to “strengthen” the government’s balance sheet.

So, let’s praise Congressman Paulsen for supporting H.R. 3163 Medicare Part B Home Infusion Services Temporary Transitional Payment Act … it’s a partial step to fix a problem that was created by the Cures Act.
And it’s a partial step — another fact that Congressman Paulsen failed to mention — is that the start date is January 1, 2019 — that’s right, these patients will continue to suffer this mess for another two years !
WHY the wait when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) already estimated this provision would save the government money and acceleration of the start date would expedite the realization of the savings ?

Yet, the faint-hearted praise for Congressman Paulsen’s support begs the question of what would happen if his Affordable Healthcare Reform Act is enacted … yes, the Medicare Part B program would survive … but what about people not covered under Medicare ? The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) requires fully insured non-grandfathered individual and small group plans (inside and outside of Exchanges) to provide coverage for Essential Health Benefits (“EHBs”) — that could all be gone. And what about the lifetime caps ? And the shrinking “donut hole” that reduces how much Medicare recipients pay for their prescription drugs ?

Yes, let’s acknowledge Congressman Paulsen’s favorable response … yet, don’t you have to ask : Would another Congressman do something more ?
Maybe someone that supports H.R.676 Expanded & Improved Medicare For All ?
Maybe someone that gives all the facts … not just the ones that make him sound moderate and responsive to his constituents ?

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