For many older Americans, the give and take necessary to pass meaningful and successful health care reform makes sense. That's why we here at the National Committee have worked hard to mobilize their support for health care reform proposals that would improve efficiency and care for millions of Medicare beneficiaries while also providing savings for system-wide health care reform efforts. However, today we are opposing any effort to transfer Congress' authority to manage Medicare to an appointed Commission charged primarily with cutting costs.   The Independent Medicare Advisory Council proposal being considered in the House includes many of the same flawed approaches seen in entitlement reform commission plans offered in the past, including; fast-tracked legislation which prohibits amendments and requires an up or down vote, statutory spending caps and sequestration of funding.  These provisions put spending cuts as the Medicare commission's top priority.  That leaves little room for concerns about access to services or affordability, and could ultimately lead to a serious erosion of the benefits relied upon by millions of seniors and the disabled.   Our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly, sent this letter  to Congress and the White House laying out our objections to the creations of a permanent Medicare Commission: 
"As the President himself has said, America does not face an entitlement crisis, we face a health care crisis.  In light of this, proposals that single out Medicare for aggressive cost cutting are not only unwise but patently unfair.  We believe that it is an imperative of health reform that cost growth throughout the entire health care system be addressed, not simply in the Medicare program.  Submitting major changes to such an important program on a fast track through Congress with little opportunity for amendment runs counter to the Administration's call for transparency and participation by the American public in policy decisions. Enacting procedures to push through changes of this importance to millions of Americans, especially senior Americans, ultimately disenfranchises the public and hurts the political process."    
Medicare reforms can and should be a part of the national health care transformation.   However, analysis by the Congressional Budget Office has shown that Medicare spending is only a portion of the cost growth trend seen system-wide; underlining the need to control the growth trend throughout the entire health care system, not simply in the Medicare program.  This Medicare Advisory Council proposal shifts the focus away from system-wide reforms in favor of cutting Medicare to reduce the cost of health care reform.       A copy of the National Committee's letter to Congress opposing the creation of a permanent Medicare commission is available on our website.