Dems’ plan to avoid health cuts is seen as doomed in House

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

Democrats floated a new plan to avoid cuts to Medi­care and other health pro­grams, but it stands lit­tle chance of suc­ceed­ing. The Amer­i­can Fam­ily Eco­nomic Pro­tec­tion Act was in­tro­duced Feb. 14 to re­place the 2% Medi­care provider and in­surer cuts sched­uled to be­gin March 1 along with a se­ries of tax in­creases and cuts to agri­cul­tural and de­fense pro­grams. The bill would de­lay the start of all sched­uled se­quester cuts—in­clud­ing those to Medi­care—un­til Jan. 2, 2014. The bill was of­fered by Se­nate Demo­cratic lead­ers and quickly won the back­ing of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. But it was see as dead on ar­rival in the Repub­li­can-led House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, be­cause of its tax in­creases. “They’re not go­ing to be able to align both houses to find re­lief there,” said one health in­dus­try source. “We’re pleased that they are elim­i­nat­ing the 2% Medi­care cut,” said Marie Wat­teau, a spokes­woman for the Amer­i­can Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion. “We are also pleased they have iden­ti­fied other sources of fund­ing than ad­di­tional cuts to Medi­care and Med­i­caid.” The se­quester al­ready was de­layed once by a year-end bud­get deal. The Amer­i­can Tax­payer Re­lief Act of 2012 put off the start of the se­quester by two months and re­duced the to­tal cut to fed­eral spend­ing in 2013 to $85 bil­lion from $109 bil­lion.

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