First Selections Named to Panel Tasked With Making Spending Cuts
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced his three selections for the bipartisan, bicameral panel charged with making additional spending cuts under the recent debt deal, the Washington Post reports.
Reid appointed Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) as the committee co-chair, as well as Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) (Helderman, Washington Post, 8/9).
On Wednesday,Â House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his three picks for the debt panel. Boehner's selections are:
- House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.);
- Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas); and
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.)
Also on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) named his selections. They are:
- Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.);
- Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio); and
- Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) (Davis/Friedman, National Journal, 8/10).
According to the budget agreement, House and Senate leaders will establish the panel to develop and pass by the end of November a package of $1.5 trillion in additional federal spending cuts over 10 years.
Failure by Congress to enact further spending reductions at the end of this year would trigger a series of automatic cuts of as much as $1.2 trillion. If the triggers are engaged, Medicaid is exempted and Medicare is protected from deep spending cuts. However, the deficit panel is not bound by those stipulations.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Reid each are charged with selecting three panel members (California Healthline, 8/9).
Reaction to Reid's Selections
Pundits considered Murray a front-runner for the committee, as she is next in line to chair the Senate Budget Committee. Baucus also was expected because he serves as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which examines entitlement and tax issues.
Some experts were surprised by the choice of Kerry, since as of late he has focused more on foreign relations (Washington Post, 8/9). However, Kerry recently has been lobbying for a spot on the Finance Committee, Politico reports.
Reid said in a statement, "I have appointed three senators who each possess an expertise in budget matters, a commitment to a balanced approach and a track record of forging bipartisan consensus" (Raju/Bresnahan, Politico, 8/9).
Baucus, Kerry and Murray in a joint statement said the panel should set aside the "red hot partisanship and brinkmanship" that have plagued budget negotiations in recent months and unite to find additional ways to cut the deficit. The Post noted that their statement did not advocate for tax increases or dismiss Republican-favored cuts to entitlement spending, a contentious issue during the recent budget talks.
Republicans criticized the choice of Murray, who also serves as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said the selection is "absolute proof that Democrats are not serious about deficit reduction." Priebus added, "As chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Murray is the Senate Democrats' fundraiser-in-chief. The [panel] is no place for someone whose top priority is fundraising and politics" (Washington Post, 8/9).
S&P Considers Potential Medicare Cuts
Home-care providers Gentiva Health Services and Advanced Homecare Holdings, long-term acute-care hospital operator LifeCare Holdings and hospital company Prospect Medical Holdings likely would experience the largest negative effects if Congress cuts Medicare to reduce deficits, according to a recent Standard & Poor's report, Modern Healthcare reports (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 8/9).
Experts anticipate that the panel will cut entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid as part of additional deficit-reduction strategies (California Healthline, 8/9).
The S&P report ranked health care companies by their percentage of revenue from Medicare. It found that 23 skilled-nursing, hospital and radiation oncology companies get 30% to 50% of their revenue through the program.
S&P said, "Because the hospital sector represents the single largest category of health care spending, we believe the federal government's efforts to manage the U.S. deficit could lead to significant reimbursement cuts in this area."
The report also found that although dialysis providers American Renal Holdings, DaVita, Renal Advantage and U.S. Renal Care ranked highest, with more than half of their revenue coming from Medicare, they likely will avoid negative effects of Medicare cuts "because of the nondiscretionary nature of dialysis" (Modern Healthcare, 8/9).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.