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Sep 14, 2009

SSAB On Health Care Costs

The Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB) has issued a report with the title The Unsustainable Cost of Health Care. The basic premise of the report, that health care costs are increasing at an unsustainable rate, is beyond debate. What is odd is that the report fails to discuss in any meaningful way the possibility of the so-called "public option," a government run insurance program that competes with private insurers, as a solution or part of a solution for this problem. The possibility of a single payer system is not even hinted at. There may well be no public option in the final plan passed by Congress and signed by the President, but this is certainly on the table. Instead of evaluating the public option as a possible fix for the problem the report states that one reason for increasing health care costs is that too many people have health care insurance! The report says flatly that reducing the ranks of the uninsured would lead to a greater problem with health care costs. The report seems to offer a compilation of plans backed by Republicans as the only possible solutions for the problems identified.

I do not understand why Democrats on the SSAB would sign on to this document.

It is my opinion that the SSAB as presently constituted is a waste of money. This report is certainly a waste of money. Why do Democrats in Congress keep funding SSAB?

Update: One poster noted that the SSAB was set up by statute. That is true but statutory bodies can be defunded. Without an appropriation, SSAB dies. It has happened to other agencies in the past. One that I recall well was the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). ACUS still exists as a statutory body, but it offended Republicans and was defunded in 1995. For that matter, maybe ACUS should be revived.

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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Sec. 703. [42 U.S.C. 903] (a) There shall be established a Social Security Advisory Board (in this section referred to as the “Board”).

    In otherr words, this is required by law. And how did the SSAB extend their "charter" to include health care? Seems like a long stretch to link health care to any of the agency's programs.

    3:26 PM, September 14, 2009  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Charles is right, de-funding the SSAB and re-funding the Administrative Conference (ACUS) would be a significant step forward. ACUS actually did some good work; I can't think of anything the SSAB has done that comes close to what ACUS did in its heyday.

    9:05 AM, September 15, 2009  
    Blogger No Saj said...

    I don't see what the SSAB does that the GOA doesn't already do better. This report reads like a college paper that is simply trying to meet the minimum page requirement...

    10:02 AM, September 15, 2009  
    Anonymous Nancy Ortiz said...

    In the past, the SSAB screamed for staffing increases for SSA, pointed to deteriorating service delivery, and problems in the hearings process. However, the Board is composed of presidential appointees. The Obama administration has yet to pay satisfactory attention to SSA and the neglect shows. SSAB would be one place Obama could make an immediate and significant impact.

    11:26 AM, September 15, 2009  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The SSAB involvement with health care may be because the Social Security Act is a huge catchall of programs that was passed in 1935 to try to provide more finanacial security to society and Congress has added more by amending the Act many times. Among it's 22 Titles or sections are Title 2, which is what most people think of when you say Social Security, Title 3 - unemployment compensation, Title 4 - Aid to Needy Families aka TANF (formerly AFDC), Title 16 - Supplemental Security Income, Title 18 - Medicare, Title 19 - Medicaid, etc. Until Congress created the Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA) which is now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Servics (CMS), it was the Social Security Administration (SSA) that administered Medicare. Now SSA primarily administers Title 2 and Title 16, but is still very much involved in enrolling people in Medicare, collecting Medicare premiums, taking applications for the Extra Help with Part D of Medicare and in many states, it is SSA that certifies the Medicaid eligibility for those who receive SSI.

    6:35 PM, September 15, 2009  

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