Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Fight Over Health Care Funding Has Entered A New Phase

Even if it is out of fashion, Disease Management Care Blog continues to strive to be among those wealthy Americans that, thanks to countless tax breaks and loopholes for jets and golf shoe tassels, are not paying their fair share for shovels and readiness.  Unfortunately, its likelihood of being admitted to that club, even with its vast blogging income, seems remote. A second option, says the DMCB, is personally help our economy by embarking on some serious consumer spending, starting with a new blazer and a matching high-performance laptop. Too bad the DMCB spouse disagrees.

Since it's stuck in the water, the DMCB's economic status will be forced to await the details surrounding the latest Federal budget agreement of undefined cuts that amount to $917 billion. Then there's the $1.2 trillion in additional cuts that will be decided upon by a 12 person Congressional "Super Committee." As the DMCB understands it, that initial  $917 billion did not include Medicare or Medicaid, thanks to a reprieve wrestled from the White House at the last minute by House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).  Whether the Super Committee protects Medicare and Medicaid in the second round of cuts remains to be seen.  If they fail to come to an agreement, automatic cuts will kick in, which will include an across-the-board 2% reduction for Medicare.  Ouch.

After reading Bob Laszewski's Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review, the DMCB isn't optimistic on how how these health care entitlement programs will fare. It's unlikely that eligibility will be tackled in four short months and less than a year before an election. That leaves payment cuts. Cuts to States, cuts in payment rates to hospitals, and, most ominously, reneging on the likely backroom political promises that were made to organized physician organizations over fixing a looming 29.5% sustainable growth rate (SGR) pay-cut debacle.

The bulk of the Republicans have made it clear that they won't go along with any "new revenue" ideas, while the White House was surprisingly prepared to offer a 4% cut for Medicare payment rates.  None of this bodes well for providers. 

The DMCB will be watching carefully to see how they respond.

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