KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

High-Cost Medicare Areas Worry About Looming Cuts

The White House's pressure to cut soaring healthcare costs is causing action and concern in high cost Medicare areas, especially South Florida.

The Miami Herald reports that several political and health care leaders emphasized the importance of cost reduction to attain health reform at a Tuesday press conference in Miami that was similar to many others being held across the country. The paper reports: "For weeks, the White House has emphasized that reducing unnecessary medical costs would go a long way to help extend coverage to the 45 million uninsured in America. This month, stories in The New Yorker and The New York Times have discussed healthcare cost disparities. Both led with McAllen, Texas, as being among the most expensive places in the country, but both articles also mentioned Miami's staggering costs. The average Medicare beneficiary costs twice as much in Miami as does one in San Francisco, according to data compiled by the Dartmouth Atlas."

The paper notes that Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., favors reforms that don't result in broad cuts and "is seriously concerned such reductions could damage patient care in places such as Miami, where costs are among the highest in the nation." His aide Madeline Otto said: "A lot of work has been done about how Medicare spending varies in different parts of the country, but there is not completed research about how to reduce these variations without hurting beneficiaries." At the conference, people also spoke about the overuse of the emergency room for chronic disease problems, the importance of including doctors in reform discussions and concerns about the uninsured (Dorschner, 6/10).

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