KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

House GOP Appears To Be Warming To $85 Billion Budget Deal

CQ HealthBeat reports that Medicare providers would face an added two years of automatic spending cuts under the agreement. 

CQ HealthBeat: Medicare Providers Take Unexpected Hit In Budget Deal, Face 2014 Fight
Medicare’s providers face an added two years of automatic spending cuts under the budget agreement announced Tuesday evening by the leaders of the House and Senate budget committees. That would help offset the costs of temporarily easing the impact of sequester provisions of the budget control law on operating budgets of federal agencies (Young, 12/11).

The Washington Post: House Republicans Appear To Be Rallying Behind $85 Billion Budget Deal
Though they expect a strong Republican vote, GOP leadership aides said they were likely to need a sizable contingent of Democrats to push the measure across the finish line. ... That margin may be trimmed somewhat, key Democrats said, by a last-minute decision by Republicans to add an amendment to benefit doctors who see Medicare patients. Democrats support what is known as the “doc fix,” which would postpone for three months a 24 percent cut in Medicare re­imbursement rates set to hit providers in January (Montgomery, 12/11). 

The Wall Street Journal: Budget Deal Picks Up Steam
Few lawmakers expressed enthusiasm for the narrowly focused agreement reached by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and his Senate counterpart, Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.), to ease the effect of across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. But lawmakers from both parties predicted that bipartisan desire to call a cease-fire in Congress's budget wars would carry the bill through the House and into the Senate next week. "If you are for more deficit reduction, you are for this agreement," said House Speaker John Boehner (Hook and Peterson, 12/11). 

In addition, the CBO estimated the cost of the temporary "doc fix" -

The Hill: CBO: 'Doc Fix' Patch To Cost About $8.7 Billion
A proposed patch sparing Medicare physicians a 24 percent pay cut next year would cost about $8.7 billion, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. The House measure would provide doctors with a 0.5 percent payment update through March 2014 while allowing Congress several months to overhaul Medicare's flawed physician payment system (Viebeck, 12/11).

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