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Friday, February 2nd 2007

Don't Worry They'll Be Able To Buy Insurance With A Tax Credit

It All Came From Mr. Bush’s Nogin

Bush wants big cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and in CHIP.

President Bush will ask Congress in his budget next week to squeeze more than $70 billion of savings from Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years, administration officials and health care lobbyists said Thursday.

Mr. Bush is also expected to propose changes in the Children’s Health Insurance Program to sharpen its focus on low-income families. The changes could reduce federal payments to states that cover children with family incomes exceeding twice the poverty level. Under federal guidelines, a family of four is considered poor if its annual income is less than $20,650.

The plan ain’t exactly good news for anyone. Including beneficiaries. As stated earlier, it would cut some children off CHIP. It would also further extend the ‘progressive’ premiums for Medicare which appeared for the first time this year.

Under the president’s plan, some Medicare beneficiaries would shoulder added costs. At present, about 4 percent of the 43 million beneficiaries must pay more than the standard monthly premium — it is $93.50 this year — because they have high incomes: more than $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for married couples. The president’s budget would require more people to pay the higher premiums, but administration officials would not immediately provide details.

Providers would lose out as well.

Most of the proposed savings, however, would come from health care providers. Mr. Bush is expected to propose freezing Medicare payments to home health agencies and reducing the inflation allowance paid to hospitals, nursing homes and other providers.

Hospitals plan to fight the president with lobbying and advertising. “Two-thirds of hospitals already lose money treating Medicare beneficiaries,” said Richard J. Pollack, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association.

The president’s budget also assumes that Medicare payments to doctors will be cut at least 8 percent next year, as provided under a formula in existing law.

The physician cut per the SGR is nothing new. The AMA and other physician groups expend the brunt of their lobbying effort every year getting “yearly”/temporary SGR fixes to prevent cuts in reimbursement.

I’m not sure a permanent SGR fix is high on the Dems agenda. But the cuts for patients I cannot imagine flying in this Congress.