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Bush’s problems – HSAs, Medicare, and Congress

Reports out of Washington indicate Pres. Bush’s plans to expand HSAs by increasing the amount individuals can set aside tax-free are not gaining much traction on Capitol Hill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R Nebraska) and other Republicans are not in favor of the move.
This is not Bush’s only problem related to health care. Some 60 House Republicans have refused to back the Bush Medicare budget cuts, breaking wiith the President despite calls for fiscal prudence. One wonders if election year politics has anything to do with this. Actually, there’s no wondering.
Republicans, faced with a President with historically low approval ratings (well, pretty close to historical lows) look to be scrambling for cover – and with seniors particularly upset with the GOP over the Part D mess, a cut to Medicare would increase their problems.
The situation on the Hill makes CMS Director McClellan’s recent pronouncements about adding HSAs to Medicare (Part G?!) somewhat…puzzling? Faced with concerns about both HSAs and Medicare among their own party leaders, why is McClellan floating this trial balloon? One can only imagine the reaction among seniors who have been tearing their hair out over Part D. If we thought Part D was complicated and hard to explain, I can’t wait to see our nation’s political leaders on a bus traveling around talking to seniors about HSAs.
What are these people thinking? Or rather, are these people thinking?
What does this mean for you?
Politics in an election year can be good and bad – killing the ill-conceived HSA expansion while not addressing some of the real concerns with Medicare are two great examples.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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