KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

GOP Wants To Restore Some Military Retiree Pensions, Tie It To Debt-Limit Raise, Extend Medicare Cuts

Republicans are considering tying an increase in the debt ceiling to restoring pension cuts for military retirees and paying for it by extending automatic cuts to programs, including Medicare. The Medicare doctor payment fix that the GOP was considering tying to the raise is now moving on its own track.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: GOP Mulls Raising Debt Limit, Undoing Pension Cut
The GOP bill would extend Treasury’s borrowing authority for at least another year, repeal the curb passed in December on pension inflation adjustments for military retirees under the age of 62, and extend automatic cuts to Medicare and other programs to 2024 (2/11).

The Washington Post: House GOP Homes In On Debt-Ceiling Plan Tied To Military Pension Benefits
Despite the uncertain fate, Boehner’s team moved ahead with the option linking a restoration of recently cut military pension benefits to a one-year extension of the Treasury’s borrowing authority. The cost of restoring that cut to military pensions, about $7 billion, would be offset by an extension, by one year, of planned automatic spending cuts to entitlement programs. … Other GOP ideas, floated during the past week, were jettisoned by Monday, including the perennial fix to the way Medicare reimbursements are calculated. That legislation is now moving on its own separate track amid bipartisan talks (Costa and Kane, 2/10).

The New York Times: House Republicans Seek To Trade Debt Deal For Repeal On Military Pensions
“As a senator from the most military-friendly state in the nation, I’m pleased that we have voted to advance this legislation that will affect so many brave men and women who have served our country,” Senator Hagan declared after Monday’s vote, adding that the cut would siphon an average of $80,000 over a military retiree’s life. “We can never balance the budget on the backs of those who have answered the call of duty.” House Republican leaders argued that the measure they were championing would not add to the deficit. That is because it would extend to 2024 a 2 percent cut to Medicare health care providers that already is in effect until 2023 (Weisman, 2/10). 

The Hill: GOP Debt Ceiling Bill Includes ‘Doc Fix’ Fund
House Republicans late Monday released the text of legislation to deal with the debt ceiling, which also deals with the "doc fix" issue relating to Medicare physician reimbursements. GOP leaders said the bill would come up for a vote on Wednesday. The Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act was proposed as a substitute amendment to a Senate bill, S. 540, to name an air traffic control tower in New Hampshire. Replacing the text of that bill, which already passed the Senate, will allow the Senate to approve it more quickly (Kasperowicz, 2/10).

The Hill: Hospitals Push Back On Proposal To Extend Cuts
Hospital groups are pushing back on a proposal from House Republicans to extend the Medicare sequestration cuts as part of a bill to raise the debt ceiling. The idea from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would "undermine care for seniors" and add to onerous reductions already facing Medicare providers, a coalition of hospital groups wrote in a letter to lawmakers Monday (Viebeck, 2/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: AMA Supports Overhaul Of Medicare Doctors’ Pay
The American Medical Association says it strongly supports legislation that would change the way Medicare pays doctors, to emphasize quality care and not just sheer volume of services (2/10). 

CQ HealthBeat: ‘Doc Fix’ Bill Gains Backing From AMA, But Short-Term Patch Does Not
The American Medical Association will fully support the bipartisan compromise “doc fix” bill to replace how Medicare pays physicians, but the organization is not yet offering ideas on how to pay for the measure. In addition, the influential physicians’ group is throwing cold water on the idea of a nine-month patch that’s currently being floated in Congress (Ethridge, 2/10).

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