Obama Signs Two-Year Budget Deal With ACA, Medicare Provisions
On Monday, President Obama signed into law a two-year budget deal (HR 1314) that raises the country's spending limits and makes changes to several health care programs, The Hill reports (Fabian, The Hill, 11/2).
Both the House and Senate voted to approve the bipartisan budget agreement last week.
The budget deal applies to fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The deal increases spending caps for domestic agencies by $50 billion during the first year and $30 billion during the second year. An extra $32 billion in spending over two years will come from an overseas contingency account, bringing the total budget agreement to $112 billion.
The agreement also suspends the country's $18.1 trillion debt limit through March 2017.
Health Care Provisions
The budget agreement lessens, but does not eliminate, a premium increase for about 15 million Medicare beneficiaries. Under the agreement, monthly Medicare Part B premiums will increase to about $120, rather than to $159, for roughly 30% of beneficiaries. Meanwhile, annual deductibles for all Medicare beneficiaries will increase to about $167, rather than to $223.
Funding to offset portions of the projected increases will come from a loan to the supplemental medical insurance trust fund. The loan will be repaid through a $3 monthly surcharge on premiums for the 30% of beneficiaries who will experience the increase. Beneficiaries with higher incomes, who also pay higher Medicare premiums, will see larger surcharges.
Further, the agreement extends a two-percentage-point reduction in Medicare payments to physicians and hospitals through the end of a 10-year budget, which will fund an estimated $25.8 billion of the deal.
The budget agreement also:
- Prevents a cut to Social Security disability benefits;
- Eliminates an Affordable Care Act mandate that required large companies to automatically enroll employees in health plans unless the workers opted out of the coverage;
- Requires generic drugmakers to give greater discounts to Medicaid if prices of the drugs rise more quickly than inflation; and
- Bars physician practices that are not part of a hospital's main campus from billing through the hospital's outpatient system (California Healthline, 10/30).
Obama said the budget agreement puts the country "on a responsible path" to spur economic growth. He praised Democrats and Republicans for working "together to set up a responsible, long-term budget process" and producing a spending plan "that reflects our values, that grows our economy, creates jobs [and] keeps American safe" (The Hill, 11/2).
However, Obama noted that lawmakers have more work to do to avoid a government shutdown when a stopgap spending bill currently funding the federal government expires on Dec. 11. He said, "This is just the first step between now and the middle of December," adding, "The appropriators are going to have to do their job; they're going to have to come up with spending bills" (Krawzak, Roll Call, 11/2).
According to The Hill, the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress could clash over certain spending measures, such as an effort to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding. Still, Obama said he is "confident" that Congress can pass the appropriations measures "on time" (The Hill, 11/2).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.