The Reagan Era of Politics and Healthcare
Bipartisanship made a resurgence during the Reagan administration with the president and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill (D-MA) setting the tone. Together, under budget reconciliation procedures, Congress was able to both obtain reductions in healthcare spending and maintain most Medicare and Medicaid benefits by applying the reduction in reimbursements to payments to hospitals, healthcare providers, and suppliers under an omnibus reconciliation bill. Congress made a serious misstep in passing the 1988 Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, which raised premiums on seniors while providing them with little benefit in return and elicited outrage from the electorate and lobbying groups. It was repealed a little over a year later. There was a boom in the number of women elected to Congress and they were successful in passing legislation to improve the accuracy of screening tests for cervical and breast cancer—issues that had received little attention in the past. This led to a major shift from Medicare only reimbursing for covered medical conditions to reimbursing for screening tests. Continuing its efforts to cut costs, the Congress adopted fee schedules to regulate the amount spent on some equipment and procedures and required physicians to participate in Medicare if they wished to receive future payment updates.
KeywordsPresident Reagan Budget reconciliation Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act Women Diagnosis-Related Groups Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act
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