Debt Panel Urged To Consider Effects of Cuts to Entitlement Programs
On Thursday, federal lawmakers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries gathered on Capitol Hill to warn the debt panel of the consequences of cutting entitlement programs as part of deficit-reduction strategies, Modern Healthcare reports (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 11/17).
Republicans seek significant entitlement cuts to curb increasing deficits, and some Democrats on the panel have indicated that they are willing to increase Medicare premiums (Hughes, Wall Street Journal, 11/17).
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who led the event, was joined by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-Conn.)
Â Sanders said, "[T]he deficit was caused by two wars -- unpaid for; it was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country; it was caused by a recession that was the result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street." He added, "And if those are the causes of the deficit and the national debt, I will be damned if we're going to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor" (Modern Healthcare, 11/17).
In related news, state Medicaid directors and health insurance trade groups are urging the committee to recommend that most or all beneficiaries who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid be moved into private plans to better coordinate their care, Kaiser Health News/USA Today reports.
State and federal governments spend about $300 billion combined on dual eligibles annually, according to KHN/USA Today. Some health care experts say that the programs were not designed to work together and that the way state and federal governments split care services and billing is inefficient.
America's Health Insurance Plans estimated that state and federal governments could save as much as $125 billion over the next 10 years if they transferred all dual eligibles into managed care plans.
However, advocates for elderly residents are concerned that the strategy might limit dual eligibles' choice of health providers.
AARP Legislative Director David Certner said, "A quick so-called fix, such as mandatory enrollment of all [dual eligibles] in managed care plans, will most likely neither result in savings to taxpayers nor assure the health and supportive care needs of this group will be met."
Patricia Nemore, senior policy attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy, said the strategy has not been proven to save money (Galewitz, USA Today/Kaiser Health News, 11/17).
Debt Panel Talks Stalled
Democratic and Republican members of the debt panel on Thursday were not optimistic that the committee will be able to reach an agreement before the Nov. 23 deadline, Politico reports.
Democrats appeared to be working on a new offer, while Republicans said they will not offer another proposal (Sherman/Min Kim, Politico, 11/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.