Three Republican senators say the Obama administration isn’t answering their questions about how it’s spending billions of dollars earmarked under the health care law to improve Medicare.
Last November, Sens. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming asked Secretary of Health and Human Service Kathleen Sebelius to explain in detail how a new Medicare Innovation Center is using $10 billion to improve health care delivery around the country.
They said this week they haven’t yet received a response.
“We remain concerned that at a time of significant uncertainty for the fiscal health of the U.S. government, funds are being expended by the Innovation Center with little to no actuarial value provided,” they wrote in a letter to Mrs. Sebelius, urging her to complete their request as soon as possible.
Aiming to curb costs for the severely overburdened entitlement system, the center is trying to encourage Medicare providers to better coordinate patient care by testing new ways of paying them — such as bundling payments and returning a portion of the savings they achieve.
Republicans have attempted to go even further by overhauling the entire system, backing a model that gives seniors the option of using vouchers to buy private insurance, but their efforts have been blocked by the administration and congressional Democrats.
Democrats say moving away from the traditional fee-for-service model would just shift more costs to seniors, while Republicans say preserving the traditional payment system will bankrupt Medicare.
“Reducing health care costs is vital to preserving the solvency of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, but we are concerned that the administration’s current approach, operating within the fee-for-service system, will not achieve the spending reductions necessary to meet this goal,” the senators wrote.