Medicare is asking patients to negotiate with providers for the cost of their treatment:
The administration contends that the rental payments now are a waste of scarce government funds, and that the situation has reached a point where relationships must be altered. Instead of renting, Medicare would in effect buy the equipment for a beneficiary, who then could bargain for services -- oxygen supplies and maintenance -- separately on the basis of service and price.
Let me ask something here. If small businesses can't negotiate rates, how are individual patients going to?
I'm well aware of the fact that the new health beat in the White House is Consumer Directed Health Care. But please spell out the logic behind this one. The mandate of Medicare is to pay for the elderly's health services. It isn't to buy equipment for them then ask them to lay out in the cold neogiating price with medical device providers.
Congressman Bill Thomas takes a stab at the logic:
Patients will now "own the means of delivery," says House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, and the industry will have to compete more to serve them. "Remember Marx -- own the means of production," the California Republican adds with a grin.
Methinks this is not what Marx intended. No, this is not what Lyndon Johnson intended. And this is certainly not what Medicare beneficiaries bargained for when they started paying into Social Security forty years ago.