Obama puts Dems on guard

Some sen­a­tors wary of health­care cuts

Modern Healthcare - - The Week In Healthcare - Rich Daly

Provider groups are not alone in crit­i­ciz­ing the health­care sav­ings in­cluded in Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s deficit-re­duc­tion plan of­fered last week. Other crit­ics in­clude lead­ing Se­nate Democrats, whom the pres­i­dent will need to ad­vance his ap­proach.

Obama’s pro­posed $320 bil­lion in 10-year cuts to Medi­care and Med­i­caid are part of his larger pro­posal to the con­gres­sional deficitre­duc­tion su­per­com­mit­tee to re­duce the fed­eral govern­ment’s fu­ture deficits by more than $3 tril­lion. That panel is charged with cut­ting at least $1.2 tril­lion in fu­ture deficits over the com­ing decade.

The health­care com­po­nents of the Obama plan de­rive much of their sav­ings from cuts to providers, drug com­pa­nies and state Med­i­caid pro­grams, with smaller fu­ture sav­ings squeezed di­rectly from ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

Pre­dictably, most provider groups staunchly op­posed the cuts. But the White House may not have an­tic­i­pated that some of its lead­ing Capi­tol Hill de­fend­ers would join them.

“I’m wary about some of the cuts where we save are from providers, par­tic­u­larly home health­care and the pre­ven­tion of in­sti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion,” Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski (D-Md.), a se­nior mem­ber of two pow­er­ful con­gres­sional health­care panels, told Modern Health­care.

Mikul­ski’s con­cerns stemmed from one of the big­gest provider sav­ings tar­gets in Obama’s pro­posal: post-acute fa­cil­i­ties. His plan would cut $42 bil­lion from long-term acute-care hos­pi­tals, nurs­ing homes, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties and home health providers. Her crit­i­cism echoed that of provider ad­vo­cates, who are wor­ried about the cu­mu­la­tive im­pact of new spend­ing re­duc­tions on top of statu­tory and reg­u­la­tory cuts from the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able

AP PHOTO

Obama is seek­ing $320 bil­lion in cuts to Medi­care and Med­i­caid in his deficitre­duc­tion pack­age

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