KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicare Issues In Play: IPAB, The Doc-Fix And The Eligibility Age

News outlets report on how specific Medicare-related proposals and provisions are holding up in the continuing negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

Politico: The Medicare Payment Panel Everyone Loves To Hate
Largely unspoken in the fiscal cliff Medicare fight is this fact: The Democrats' health law already includes a legally binding brake on Medicare spending. And the Republicans can't wait to get rid of it (Kenen, 12/18).

CQ HealthBeat: Panelists Say Increasing Medicare Eligibility Age Would Save Money But Shift Costs Widely
Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 would save the program money but would also drive up costs for employers and out-of-pocket charges for a vulnerable population, while increasing overall health care spending and causing hundreds of thousands of Americans to become uninsured, panelists said at a Capitol Hill forum on Monday. One of the speakers, former Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Gail Wilensky, didn't dispute those conclusions by her fellow panelists at the event sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform. But she emphasized that it's important to begin moving to the higher age as part of a broader set of policies to change younger Americans' perceptions about what they can expect from entitlement programs (Reichard, 12/17).

The Hill: Doctor's Group Calls For 'Doc Fix' In Fiscal Cliff Bill
Congress should permanently repeal Medicare's flawed payment formula as part of a year-end deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, the Alliance of Specialty Medicine said Monday. The Alliance said a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff should include a permanent "doc fix." Doctors will see their Medicare payments cut by nearly 30 percent at the end of this year if Congress does not act, although a permanent fix is unlikely. Some congressional Republicans have been angling for a one-year fix by the end of 2012, with or without a deal on the fiscal cliff. Congress routinely delays the automatic cuts built into Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate formula (Baker, 12/17).

Medpage Today: AARP: Bumping-Up Medicare Age 'Bad Economics'
Policymakers are still considering raising Medicare's eligibility age to 67 as a way to solve the nation's fiscal woes, but that's not a good idea, several healthcare analysts said here Monday. Washington budget hawks are contemplating moving the eligibility age from 65 to 67 as a way to save more than $100 billion in federal spending in the next decade. However, moving the eligibility age wouldn't cure Medicare's spending woes and would only shift costs to seniors, speakers said at an event on the topic Monday hosted by the Alliance for Health Reform. … By the AARP's estimate, 5% of the 5 million beneficiaries (affected) by the policy change would be left uninsured (Pittman, 12/17).

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