What would Francis say about the SGR?

A few weeks ago, I read this article about everyone’s favorite Argentine and his perspective on caring for seniors:

“We must reawaken our collective sense of gratitude, appreciation and hospitality, helping the elderly know they are a living part of their communities.”


During his weekly address in early March, he focused on our responsibility to honor and protect seniors, stating that ignoring this responsibility is shameful. From the article:

” ‘A society that cannot show gratitude and affection to the elderly ‘is a perverse society,’ the pope said. ‘The church, faithful to the word of God, cannot tolerate such degeneration.’

‘Where the elderly are not honored, there is no future for the young.’ ” Amen!

So this morning, I’ve been thinking-what would the Pope say about the SGR deal?

It’s impossible to avoid the celebratory e-mails and Tweets-it seems like everyone in health policy is rejoicing about the end of the SGR.  And yes, it is great that that is over.  And incredible that QI is now permanent, and tremendously important that CHIP is extended.

But the jubilee? That Congressional leaders managed to throw a few carrots to the needy in exchange for payment bumps for providers? And only asked for sacrifice from Medicare beneficiaries? Nothing from providers or insurance companies? That it took ten years for Congress to finally unite over a logistical hassle?

If we’re being really cynical, as a friend of mine explained-it’s almost brilliant evil genius.  Throw in a CHIP extension and a modest protection for vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries, and you’ll be able to push any provider gift through Congress. With the only payment clarity being that Medicare beneficiaries will foot the bill.  The rest, we’ll figure out later.

And it worked-one of the most dramatic bipartisan votes on health care in both the Senate and House.

Asking seniors to sacrifice with out anything from corporations-I wonder what Pope Francis would think about that.  Tie in the small giveaway to consumer groups to quiet them up and push the legislation through-well, that’s the doctrine of another Francis. It certainly gets a job done.

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Filed under Health Care, Seniors

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