Senate Minority Leader Senator E. J. Pipkin today condemned the state’s changes to its updated Medicare waiver that puts a cap on the amount of money that the state can spend to provide health care to its citizens.
“It’s a simple and callous plan to predetermine health care spending and thus, ration health care to Medicare recipients,” Pipkin said.
The Eastern shore lawmaker further explained the change links medical spending to the state’s economic growth.
“The plan was devised by two powerful bureaucrats, Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein and John M. Colmers, Chairman of the Health Services Cost Review Commission, which sets hospital rates. In formulating the plan of major and far-reaching impact on health care, these two individuals completely bypassed the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature.”
Whatever happened to representative government?” asked Pipkin.
The Maryland Hospital Association, which represents the state’s hospitals, has gone on record as opposing the waiver changes.
“Linking health care spending to the state’s economy puts hospitals in a position of risk and great uncertainty. Letting the economy determine from year to year what the state can spend on Medicare services will result in the arbitrary rationing of health care services to the state’s elderly and disabled population,” Pipkin said. “Health care providers and the insurance industry have also voiced outrage at the changes, which have been described as a “tectonic shift” in the manner of providing health care in Maryland.”
“The waiver changes are state policy changes of great magnitude. Clearly, such policy changes demand the input and final decision of the General Assembly. Meeting with Senate and House standing health care and finance committees and VIP state officials to explain the plan is no way to shape a significant policy change,” Pipkin asserted.
“Obviously, predetermined limits on health care spending will impose rationing of health care,” Pipkin said. ”Some people are not going to be able to get the health care they need,” said Senator Pipkin. “During the debate on the Affordable Care law, we heard over and over again that it was inhumane and immoral for insurance companies to put a predetermined monetary lifetime limit on an insured’s health care. And the federal law prohibits those insurance spending limits. Certainly, it is equally inhumane and immoral for a state to put such an arbitrary spending limit on the health care of its most vulnerable citizens.”
Senator EJ Pipkin