Proposed budget compromise would mean more cuts for Medicare providers

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) proposed a deficit savings plan that cuts funds to Medicare providers, a move that healthcare industry experts and critics strongly oppose, CNN reported.

Although the agreement would prevent another government shutdown, critics of the proposal argue that Washington lawmakers continue to make irresponsible business decisions, according to CNN.

"In the short run, this budget also cancels earlier spending reductions, instead of making some tough decisions about how to tackle our long-term fiscal challenges caused by runaway Washington spending," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement to CNN.

The two budget committee chairs want to place two-thirds of the automatic cuts--$63 billion--under budget sequestration for 2013 and 2014, slashing the deficit by about $23 billion, according to the Huffington Post.

"The budget proposal saves $28 billion over ten years by requiring the President to sequester the same percentage of mandatory budgetary resources in 2022 and 2023 as will be sequestered in 2021 under current law," according to a summary of the deal, the Post reported.

In 2011, Medicare saw cuts of up to 2 percent, or more than $120 billion over the next 10 years of the sequester, aimed at providers, including hospitals. These cuts will continue throughout the next two years under the proposed sequester extension, the article states.

Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, called on members of Congress to reject the proposal.

"The budget agreement threatens access to critical health care services for seniors by trading off Medicare cuts for increases in government and defense spending today. Rather than providing relief to the arbitrary Medicare sequester cuts, this agreement maintains the current cuts and extends these cuts into the future. It sustains bad budget policy under the guise of solving real mandatory spending issues facing this country," he told the Post.

President Barack Obama urged Congress to avoid automatic cuts, including a 2 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Overhauling the Medicare physician payment formula over the next decade would cost only $138 billion, compared to the previously estimated $300 billion, the Congressional Budget Office said earlier this year.

The medical community has already felt the pain of the cuts. Since the cuts began April 1, cancer clinics have had to turn away thousands of patients, according to a previous FierceHealthcare report.

To learn more
- read the Post article
- here's the CNN article

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