Everyone knows the U.S. health care system is unsustainable, while medical care is already both unaffordable and too often inaccessible. Democrats’ answer to our nightmare is to hide changes to health care within their bills disguised as “infrastructure” — changes that will make care even less available.
What’s in the $1.2 Trillion ‘Infrastructure’ Bill?
Amidst such real infrastructure projects as roads, bridges, tunnels, and the electric grid, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill contains two important health policy changes. Both reduce Americans’ access to medical care.
The bill resumes a 2 percent cut in payments to Medicare providers, on top of all the other federal payments reductions. By cutting provider reimbursements (again), Democrats’ infrastructure bill reduces the availability of care, the same way the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) Medicaid cuts reduced access to care for enrollees.
In 2009, before Obamacare, the average maximum wait time for a Medicaid enrollee to see a primary care physician was an unacceptable 99 days. In 2017, as a result of payment cuts to Medicaid physicians in the ACA and the greater bureaucratic burden, average maximum wait times had increased to an unconscionable 175 days.
A second health care provision buried in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill delays implementation of the Medicare Part D Rebate Rule, a President Trump-era rule that would inject competitive forces into the market for prescription drugs. Just like payment cuts, delaying the rule keeps desperately needed drugs unaffordably expensive and therefore unavailable.
What’s in the $5 Trillion ‘Infrastructure’ Bill?
Democrats’ so-called “human infrastructure” bill would do even more harm to health care by further expanding federal control. The bill would spend money we don’t have and can’t possibly afford, makes promises it cannot keep, and would further remove personal choice from medical decision-making. Touted as a $3.5 trillion package, the bill would cost closer to $5 or $5.5 trillion over the course of a decade, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
By adding new dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Medicare, this bill will produce both medical as well as fiscal problems. The proposed new benefits will add new costs, money that Medicare does not have. Even without this new spending, the Medicare Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2026. Including additional benefits will simply hasten the day of reckoning, when Medicare won’t be able to pay for seniors’ hospital care.
Dentists in the American Dental Association