KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Debt Deal’s Potential Medicare Cuts Echo Through Health Care Industry

Medicare and Medicaid advocates prepare for their luck to run out as the debt deal will likely lead to pressure on providers and could lead to family physicians, hospitals and even elderly patients feeling the pinch.

NPR: Medicare, Medicaid Advocates Cast Wary Eye On Budget Deal
Medicare and Medicaid have so far dodged the budget knives wielded by the GOP. But those who depend on the programs know that their luck may soon be running out, thanks to the budget deal signed by President Obama on Tuesday (Rovner, 8/2).

Los Angeles Times: Debt Deal Raises Pressure On Medicare Providers
Washington policymakers demanded more savings from hospitals, doctors and other medical providers in the debt deal President Obama signed Tuesday, a move designed to protect seniors and others who rely on Medicare. But the budget cutting may end up hurting some of the neediest seniors as the federal cuts take a disproportionate toll on family physicians with many elderly patients and on hospitals that serve them (Levey and Cloud, 8/3).

The Boston Globe: Potential Medicare Payment Cuts Alarm Doctors, Hospitals
Slashes to Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals are among the automatic cuts – along with deep slices from the Pentagon budget – that will occur in December if Congress does not accept $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction proposals from a bipartisan committee that will be free to propose tax hikes or cuts in Social Security. If those choices are a rock, the history of the 1997 law shows that reducing Medicare payments to doctors is a hard place. Lobbyists for doctors and hospitals are sounding alarms, asserting that the cuts, which politicians claim will not affect Medicare beneficiaries, would harm patients by affecting their access to and quality of care (Jan and Emery, 8/3).

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Mass. Medical Society: Debt-Relief Deal Makes Triple Whammy
Dr. Lynda Young, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, says that of course the society is happy that the debt-relief deal just struck in Washington is said to protect the beneficiaries of Medicare. But it also reportedly includes a 2 percent cut for their health care providers, and that, she points out, is the third blow in a row to doctors who treat Medicare patients - and could help limit those patients' access to care (Goldberg, 8/2).

The New York Times: Spending Cuts Seen As Step, Not As Cure
There is something you should know about the deal to cut federal spending that President Obama signed into law on Tuesday: It does not actually reduce federal spending. By the end of the 10-year deal, the federal debt would be much larger than it is today. …The problem facing the nation has been clear for some time. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal debt is likely to exceed 100 percent of the nation's annual economic output by 2021, largely because of the rising cost of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (Applebaum, 8/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Deal Clears Path To More Disability Reviews
The deficit-reduction deal's spending caps contain an exemption for the Social Security Administration that could allow the agency to quickly ramp up its reviews of recipients' continuing eligibility for disability benefits. … The Social Security Disability Insurance program - which provides payments and Medicare eligibility to qualified workers unable to perform substantial, gainful employment - had 10.4 million beneficiaries as of this month, up from 6.9 million in 2001 (Paletta, 8/3).

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