KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

More Details Emerging On Health Reform’s Proposed Changes To Medicare

The Dallas Morning News reports on some of health reform's proposed changes to Medicare and local consumer reactions. "The 10.4 million beneficiaries with private insurers' Medicare Advantage plans will still get coverage at least comparable to regular Medicare, but some will see fewer extra benefits or higher out-of-pocket costs. For most of Medicare's 45 million beneficiaries, an overhaul will improve coverage by beefing up drug benefits, preserving access to physicians, paying for more preventive care and putting Medicare on firmer financial footing."

Seniors have expressed concern about Medicare changes, especially the $500 billion in proposed savings, while the Obama administration and AARP have tried to reassure them. "Part of that $500 billion will come from more aggressively attacking waste and fraud, while other savings will come from giving providers such as hospitals and home health care agencies less of an increase each year. The nation's hospitals agreed this summer to contribute $155 billion over 10 years toward the cost of insuring the uninsured, about $100 billion of which will come from lower-than-expected Medicare and Medicaid payments. With more patients insured, hospitals are banking on less uncompensated care. Though they won't receive as much as they had hoped to treat Medicare patients, the hospitals will now get paid for previously uninsured younger patients" (Moos, 10/18).

The Christian Science Monitor reports on proposed changes to Medicare: "The White House and congressional reformers call it 'savings' - a move to reward quality care, rather than quantity of services provided, more efficiency, and less waste. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate Finance Committee's proposed bill will generate $404 billion in savings [over 10 years], mainly through reductions in Medicare's payment rates in the fee-for-service sector and reining in the popular Medicare Advantage program. But there's a catch: Congress has to muster the political will to enforce these cuts over time and lawmakers have shown little heart for it, especially when it means riling the powerful seniors lobby" (Chaddock, 10/17). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.