Reflex: October 12, 2011

Catherine Dodge of Bloomberg news rounds up questionable claims made in last night’s GOP debate. Austin’s comment: Normally Aaron offers a superb debate reaction from a health care perspective (Sept 7, Sept 12, Sept 22), but he was unable to watch last night’s contest. Dodge’s report corrects the record on health care and other areas. Worth a look.

Boston-area Medicare Advantage plans strive for quality bonuses, reports Chris Weaver (KHN). “They’re after the highest mark on Medicare’s quality exam, a one-to-five star rating system that was an afterthought until the 2010 health law tied it to big cash bonuses.” Austin’s comments: If you think MA payment rates will be cut down to FFS Medicare levels by the 2010  health reform law, think again. The quality bonuses are a way for plans to earn additional payments. Since passage of the law, the minimum level of quality that qualifies a plan for a bonus has been reduced.

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 economic plan received a great deal of focus during the Republican Presidential debate, writes Peter Hamby and Rachel Streitfield. His plan to reduce personal income and  corporate tax rates to 9 percent along with a 9 percent national sales tax to replace our current tax code has received increased scrutiny from his rivals as Mr. Cain has risen in the polls. Don’s comment: It is easy to have a plan, but it is hard for a plan to stand up to outside, objective scrutiny. I am not sure what that looks like for a political primary. However, the CBO plays that role for legislation that comes before Congress, and that is a good thing.  Long Live the CBO.

Medicaid waiver entangled in safety net in Massachusetts, reports Jason Millman. The state and the federal government are having a difficult time agreeing to how much money will come Massachusetts’ way as pressure mounts to reduce payments, given the relative lack of uninsurance in the state. “The waiver, in place since 1997, helped pay for part of the state’s health care reform enacted under then-Gov. Mitt Romney when it was renegotiated in 2005. Massachusetts received $1.34 billion in safety net funds for three years, contingent on the state’s passage of health care reform in 2006. When the waiver was renegotiated in 2008, CMS boosted safety net funding while easing some of the restrictions on spending.” Aaron’s Comment: As I’ve said before, Governor Romney’s claims of passing health care reform without raising taxes were due to his ability to collect huge amounts of money from the feds. But states still need money to care for the poor, especially with community health centers stalled or shuttered.

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