Stakeholders Aim To Block Mandated Cuts to Medicare Payments
As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill Tuesday, various stakeholders -- including lobbying groups, health care advocates and research institutions -- have launched a stream of petitions, letters of concern and advertisements aimed at stopping the mandated spending cuts to Medicare under sequestration, Reuters reports (Younglai/Lange, Reuters, 11/12).
The sequester involves about $1 trillion in across-the-board cuts, including a 2% reduction to all Medicare reimbursement rates in 2013 (California Healthline, 11/12). The Obama administration estimates that the 2% reduction to Medicare rates would total $11 billion (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/12).
Although Democrats and Republicans earlier this week indicated their willingness to work together to reach a deal, the two sides are still "far apart" on issues such as entitlement reform and new tax revenue, according to Reuters (Reuters, 11/12).
On Friday, President Obama suggested that a deal could include changes to federal entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid (California Healthline, 11/12). However, health care advocates are concerned because it is unclear what concessions he would be willing to make in order to reach a deal.
Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that a budget deal would have to overhaul both the tax code and entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid (California Healthline, 11/8).
On Tuesday, liberal group -- including labor unions -- plan to urge Obama to reject any deals that include Medicare cuts, such as a 2011 compromise in which Obama tentatively agreed to raise Medicare premiums and increase the program's eligibility age from 65 to 67.
Meanwhile, liberal lawmakers and seniors groups are scheduled to hold a rally on Thursday to oppose any changes to entitlement programs. Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) said, "We will make it very clear we will not be supportive of cuts to Medicare and Social Security" (Goldfarb, Washington Post, 11/12).
Meanwhile, the American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities throughout the country, on Monday launched an advertising campaign against the cuts in publications in the District of Columbia and on major cable networks. The industry is concerned that further cuts to Medicare could jeopardize the industry ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/12).
Universities and research institutions also have organized to oppose the cuts, saying that the sequester could result in a massive loss of federal funding for research, particularly in the biological sciences (Reuters, 11/12).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.