KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Analyzing The Budgets: How The House GOP And Senate Dems Treated Medicare

The Senate Democratic budget contained more than double the cuts to Medicare, but, like the Republican blueprint, it also assumed the repeal of Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula.

National Journal: Chickening Out On Medicare
There weren't many surprises in the budgets each party released this week, but here was one: Sen. Patty Murray's Democratic proposal had more than double the cuts to the biggest health entitlement, Medicare, as Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican proposal did. Despite the House Budget chairman's frequent critique of Medicare sustainability, he would trim only $129 billion over 10 years, mostly by capping malpractice awards and by asking seniors to pay higher premiums and higher prices for prescription drugs (Sanger-Katz, 3/14).

Medscape: Senate Democrats' Budget Assumes SGR Repeal
Senate Democrats released a budget proposal for fiscal 2014 yesterday that, unlike its House Republican counterpart, assumes the repeal of Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and the 26.5% physician pay cut that it would trigger. The plan from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate budget committee, factors in the $138 billion cost of maintaining Medicare rates at their current level for 10 years. Another assumption in Murray's budget is the rollback of an additional 2% reduction to Medicare rates scheduled for April 1 that resulted from automatic, across-the-board cuts to military and domestic spending called sequestration. The budget allocates almost $1 trillion to replace the sequester cuts (Lowes, 3/14).

And here are reports about the politics and action related to both budget plans -

Politico: Sparks Fly At Senate Budget Hearing
The resolution heads to the full Senate, where it's expected to be subjected to a long list of floor amendments. Votes on the budget are expected next Thursday. The only major break from Murray by her Democratic colleagues was over an amendment offered by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) that requires the CBO to report the impact of the Affordable Health Care Act in terms of employers dropping coverage (Gibson, 3/14).

The New York Times: Boehner Says Losses In Election Won't Affect Budget Stance
In an interview, Mr. Boehner said that candidates and personalities — not Republican proposals on Medicare and spending cuts — accounted for the party's defeats, taking a hard line on further budget talks even as Senate Republicans met with President Obama in a search for common ground (Weisman and Peters, 3/14).

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