House GOP unveils plans to overhaul Medicare

In an effort to overhaul the Medicare program, House Republicans will start drafting a Medicare "premium-support" bill next year.

Fronting the legislative push is Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas, who is no stranger to an attempt to transform Medicare, reports the National Journal. Earlier this year, Brady introduced a new bill focused on preventing Medicare fraud, which included removing Social Security numbers from beneficiaries' cards.

The premium-support bill would be the third step to save Medicare, he tells the news outlet. The first two steps include the sustainable growth rate formula repeal, which Congress passed this spring, and plans to simplify Medicare hospital payments and introduce pay-for-performance to post-acute care. Specifically, Brady plans to combine Medicare's hospital and physician coverage with an out-of-pocket spending cap, which would allow seniors to pay one deductible for both Part A and Part B care. 

For the premium-support portion of the bill, meanwhile, Medicare would provide beneficiaries with a set amount of money to purchase private health coverage.

However, as the article points out, just 26 percent of Americans favor moving to premium support. What's more, critics of the bill believe that combining the two deductibles would, in turn, increase costs for seniors who don't use hospital care.

And while the panel most likely will start crafting the bill next year, Brady believes now is the time for such a transformation. "We think this fall may be the last real chance to move health policy through both bodies," he tells the NJ.

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