Panel To Save Medicare Costs Irks Lawmakers

A Medicare panel meant to help lawmakers make tough choices about cutting costs in the program has drawn bipartisan ire, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports. "The White House overcame objections from allies in Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to include provisions taking away part of Congress's ability to set Medicare policies and handing it to a board of outside experts. That upset lobbyists for doctors, drugmakers and the elderly, as well as lawmakers, and some are vowing to press for changes."

White House officials view the change as a way to rein in Medicare's costs over time. But some lawmakers differ from that view. "House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, a California Democrat, said the board would have 'unprecedented power to make sweeping changes' through a procedure that would 'virtually lock Congress out of the process of making changes of Medicare'" (Faler, 4/17).

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