Medicare, Medicaid Cuts on the Table at Senate Hearing
At a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on Thursday, ranking member Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) expressed concern about proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid by the Bush administration, CongressDaily reports.
Bush's fiscal year 2008 budget proposal includes $75.6 billion in cuts to the programs.
Smith -- the only member of the committee to attend the hearing -- said that he wondered how cuts to the programs would "be felt by seniors."
Acting CMS Administrator Leslie Norwalk said that the proposed cuts were meant to be a 10-year projection and that her agency views each year independently. She said that "the president's budget strives to induce providers toward greater efficiency with payment policies that increase the role of competition and create a strong financial incentive for providers to slow growth through productivity and other improvements in efficiency" (Talbott, CongressDaily, 2/16).
The hearing also weighed how an increase in the number of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in health plans administered by private insurers has contributed to an upswing in the types of premiums beneficiaries pay.
Smith expressed concern that in cases in which beneficiaries owe the government money, the repayment could take an excessive portion out of their monthly Social Security checks, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Norwalk said that a more gradual repayment of certain premiums owed by Medicare beneficiaries "makes some sense" in terms of policy, though she stopped short of total endorsement of such a repayment system (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 2/15).