CBO: Health Sector Likely To Fare Best With Trigger Cuts
Meanwhile, the deficit panel is getting input from a variety of sources — Medicare patients, actuaries, policy analysts and physician groups — on how critical issues about health care costs and spending should be considered.
Politico Pro: Report: Health Fares Better With Trigger Cuts
It's no secret that the health care sector would face smaller total cuts from sequestration than it likely would from the super committee — and new estimates reveal just how big the difference would be. Medicare would face only a 2 percent shave in payments to providers across the board — which would add up to $123 billion from 2013 to 2021, according to a report released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office. And, of course, Medicaid would be spared entirely. That's barely more than 10 percent of the minimum $1.2 trillion in new savings required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. By contrast, health care spending accounts for about 21 percent of the federal budget in 2010 (Norman, 9/13).
The Hill: Super Committee Hears From Medicare Patients
Advocates are making sure that lawmakers on the deficit-cutting super committee hear directly from patients on Medicare and the doctors who care for them as they prepare to shave $1.5 trillion off the federal deficit. The Medicare Rights Center wrote to super committee members ahead of its first substantive meeting Tuesday urging them to "seek out, and listen carefully to, the voices of people with Medicare — not just to those of economists, policymakers and health care experts — as you deliberate over proposals that would alter Medicare" (Pecquet, 9/12).
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Actuaries To 'Super Committee': Slow Overall Health Spending, Not Just Medicare
The deficit reduction 'super committee' should act to slow the growth of health care spending overall — not just in Medicare — as it rolls up its sleeves, says the American Academy of Actuaries. 'Achieving long-term sustainability for Medicare will require slowing the growth in overall health spending, not simply shifting costs from one payer to another,' said senior health fellow Cori Uccello" (Werber Serafini, 9/12).
CQ HealthBeat: Raising Medicare Age Won't Save What Supporters Expect, Liberal Policy Analysts Say
As recommendations for the deficit committee about how to cut Medicare build, two liberal-leaning health policy analysts urged lawmakers to reject proposals to raise the eligibility age, saying doing so would shift costs and raise overhaul health care spending. President Obama is expected Monday to outline exactly how he would cut costs from the entitlement program as part of his long-term deficit reduction strategy. And raising the age is a possible option given wide reports that such a possibility was floated during the debt ceiling negotiations (Bunis, 9/12).
CQ HealthBeat: Don't Count on Super Committee To Solve SGR, Experts Say
The deficit reduction committee likely will be unable to come up with a long-term overhaul for the Medicare physician payment formula, according to panelists at a forum exploring the impact of deficit reduction on health care. That would dash the hopes of physician groups that have been urging the panel to revise the formula, which if unchanged would demand a 29.5 percent cut in payment rates in January 2012. Congress has repeatedly staved off reductions in the past, but a 10-year solution would cost $300 billion to $400 billion. The problems with what’s known as the Sustainable Growth Rate formula — which is of great frustration to doctors — are expected to be tackled anew by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission at its Sept. 15 meeting (Norman, 9/12).
Bloomberg: The Pentagon's Feverish Health Care Tab
Patrick O'Rourke's second parachute jump as an Army cadet marked him for life. Soon after leaping out of the plane over Fort Benning, Ga., he made a mistake that caused him to hit the ground hard and get knocked out. "That began a long career of getting banged up and knocked around," says O'Rourke. Now 49, the retired lieutenant colonel has spent the past 20 years being treated for a host of foot, back, neck, and shoulder complaints. The former paratrooper's frequent trips to the doctor contribute to one of the military's most intractable challenges: keeping a lid on soaring medical costs for active-duty personnel, retirees, and their dependents, which will reach an estimated $52.5 billion in 2012, up from $19 billion in 2001. With a congressional super committee hunting for as much as $1.5 trillion in future budget savings, the Pentagon's health insurance program, known as Tricare, may be a target for reductions (Ivory, 9/12).
Modern Healthcare: AHA Urges Members To Warn Lawmakers About Impact Of Medicare Cuts
As the deficit-reduction super committee plans to meet this week, the American Hospital Association is urging its members to educate Washington lawmakers about how Medicare and Medicaid cuts to providers would hurt hospitals and their communities. In an 18-page "legislative advocacy alert," the AHA took a position on five separate issues that are at risk if cuts to providers take effect. These include cuts to graduate medical education; Medicaid provider assessments (which, the AHA noted, allow state governments to expand coverage); Medicare bad-debt reimbursement; rural or small hospitals; and the post-acute-care segment (Zigmond, 9/12).