As Congress reconvenes from its summer recess, the so-called "supercommittee" could wind up dramatically altering the Medicare program, report Kaiser Health News and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The bipartisan committee is charged with finding ways to reduce the federal deficit by $2.1 trillion over the next decade. Medicare funding is a ripe target, as spending on the program is expected to nearly double to almost $1 trillion a year by 2021.
The committee may focus on several key Medicare-related issues. Among them: implementing changes for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, possible conflicts between what the committee recommends and the course suggested by the Independent Payment and Advisory Board, and a scheduled cut of nearly 30 percent in physician payments scheduled for January.
If the committee can't reach consensus on recommendations or they are rejected by Congress, that too could affect Medicare--in the form of "sequestration," or automatic budget cuts that would kick in by 2013.
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