KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Approaching The Cliff: What’s At Stake For Medicare And Medicaid?

Medicare and other entitlement programs are in the mix as deficit deal-making takes center stage. If no deal is reached and automatic spending cuts take effect, Medicare providers will face a 2 percent across-the-board cut in January 2013.

The Medicare NewsGroup: Fiscal Cliff Discussions, Looming Cuts Have Medicare Providers Facing Double Whammy
Doctors, hospitals, other clinical care providers and insurance companies all face looming pay cuts. President Obama and Congress are in negotiations starting this week to avert the fiscal cliff. Medicare and other entitlement programs are on the table as lawmakers seek to bring down the deficit. If a deal is not struck, Medicare providers will be hit with a 2 percent across-the-board cut in January 2013 as part of sequestration. The sequestration cuts, scheduled to hit clinical care providers and insurers that operate Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D), resulted from Congress’ failure to reach a deficit agreement in 2011. The cuts total nearly $10.7 billion in 2013 alone. And for physicians, the fiscal cliff includes a 27 percent pay cut caused by the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) (Sjoerdsma, 11/15).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Primer On The Fiscal Cliff And Its Impact On Medicare
If Democrats and Republicans don't reach a grand bargain ahead of the new year, Medicare providers will be hit with a 2 percent across-the-board cut as part of mandated expense reductions. These could hit providers especially hard, as most are struggling to adapt to reimbursement cuts under the Affordable Care Act (Szot, 11/15).

Kaiser Health News: Fiscal Cliff: What Is At Stake For Medicare And Medicaid? (Health On The Hill Video)
In this Kaiser Health News video, Jackie Judd talks to KHN's Mary Agnes Carey about the budget negotiation scenarios for Medicare, where the "doc fix" fits into the budget picture, and whether Medicaid cuts are possible (11/15).

CQ HealthBeat: Liberals And Advocates Pledge To Fight Medicare Cuts To Beneficiaries In Deficit Talks
Defenders of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security rallying at the Capitol on Thursday vowed they’ll oppose any attempt to cut benefits as Congress and the Obama administration seek a deal on taxes and spending in the lame duck session and possibly a larger safety net overhaul in 2013…Leaders of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare were joined at a Thursday morning news conference by a parade of House Democrats, including Xavier Becerra of California and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, who said they’ll fight any budget proposals that would affect benefits for Medicare enrollees (Norman, 11/15).

The Hill: Hospitals: Protect Our Payments In Deficit Deal
A major hospital group warned lawmakers Thursday that its members "cannot absorb" further cuts that could come as part of a deficit-reduction deal. The Federation of American Hospitals (FAH), which represents for-profit hospitals, is the latest stakeholder group to raise concerns about possible cuts. The healthcare world faces the expiration of Medicare's latest doc fix and the sequester, which would slash $11 billion as a result of an across-the-board 2 percent cut to Medicare providers. Like hospitals, doctors and nursing homes have urged lawmakers to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" of automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to hit in January, and preserve their payments in any final deal (Viebeck, 11/15).

The Hill: Harkin: Leave Medicare, Medicaid Out Of Fiscal-Cliff Talks
Senate Health Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said Thursday that Medicare and Medicaid should be off the table during talks on the fiscal cliff. Harkin spoke alongside other liberal lawmakers at an event to highlight opposition to cutting social programs for deficit reduction. He touted the results of the Nov. 6 election as evidence that Americans support raising taxes instead of cutting spending. "When it comes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the American people told us to protect and strengthen these programs, not cut them," Harkin said (Viebeck, 11/15).

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