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