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Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) Discusses Cost Containment, Lowering Health Care Premiums at White House Health Care Summit

February 25, 2010

To watch the video click here. 

Thank you, Leader Boehner and thank you Mr. President for the invitation today. I think as we focus this part of the conversation on cost, a lot of Americans say to me if you’re really interested in controlling costs, maybe you shouldn’t be spending a trillion dollars on health care as the senate and house bills do. Also cutting Medicare benefits by a half a trillion dollars to fund this new entitlement is I think a step in the wrong direction and many americans do, as well. The nonpartisan actuaries at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services say on page 4 of their letter on the Senate-passed bill that would bend the cost curve in the wrong direction by about a quarter of a trillion dollars.

They specifically say the held expenditures under the senate bill would increase by $222 a key way of reducing costs that’s missing from the house and senate bills is responsible lawsuit reform that guarantees injured parties much like our two largest states have adopted, Texas and California access to all economic damages such as future medical care if they need nursing care in the future, they’re get it. Lost wages, reasonable awards for punitive damages and pain and suffering. On page 4 of its letter to senator hatch, cbo found that this common sense reform would reduce the federal deficit by more than $50 billion.

That’s just on the government side. As we know CBO doesn’t score the private side on this and pricewaterhousecoopers has done a study that says savings could be as high as $239 billion if this reform were adopted. There are two features in the house and senate bills that move in the wrong direction. Both bills feature restrictions on health spending accounts where people can save tax free for their health care as well as FSAs, flexible spending accounts.

These changes are such as they ban the use of over the count medication out of both of these plans. There’s a new cap on fsa contributions of $2500. That will text, that language is found on page 1959 of the senate bill. And that will hinder the growth of those plans. And which encourage Americans to they purchase health care and let me just say under hsa plan, premiums increase just 1.3% for individuals in 2007 to 2008 and declined 5.4% for families in that same period. And when people switch from a ppo, preferred provider organization, to a health savings account, their premiums decline by an average of $3800.

Now, another concern I have is the Senate bill which on page 982 creates an unelected board charged with recommending even more medicare reductions and if Congress doesn’t accept these recommendations, they have to find other medicare spending to cut instead. That give iz think too much authority to unelected bureaucrats rather than to elected representatives of the people and the power to decide whether to cut medicare and by how much. Now, holding down health care costs for the government is important but I think it’s also important to hold down costs for families and employees.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Dave, I don’t mean to interrupt. But we’re going to have the whole section talking about deficits and we can talk about the changes in medicare. We were trying to focus on costs related to lowering families. And you know, the only concern i’ve got is look, if every speaker at least on one side is going through every provision and saying what they don’t like, it’s going to be hard for to us see if we can arrive on agreements on things that we all agree on. I don’t want to try to cut you off. Please finish up but I just want to kind of point out.

CAMP: I do want to say on this issue on premiums, CBO in their letter on page 4 does say that the estimate it had average premium per person for nongroup policies would increase by 10 to 13%.

OBAMA: Is this the discussion I just had about Lamar.

CAMP: They do say that and they do say that the value of the benefit is higher and that is why it goes up. But the reason the value of the benefit is higher is because of the mandates contained in the legislation, and this is one of our big concerns with a lot of the issues that have been raised. Yes, we have similarities, but when all of this is structured around a government-centered exchanging that sets the standard for these policies, states can’t get out of these requirements unless they take a waiver from the secretary. That kind of approach raises costs and so both of your comments were correct that costs do go up and it’s because a have a richer benefit but the reason it’s richer is because of the pan dates contained in these very large bills.