Supercommittee may risk Medicare, Medicaid to avoid automatic cuts

Now that all 12 members of the debt "supercommittee" are finally in place, the race to trim $1.2 trillion off the deficit by Thanksgiving begins. The committee has already started holding conference calls, reports Politico. And no doubt, Medicare and Medicaid were topics of much discussion.

Of the bipartisan committee, the Democratic members want to preserve the Medicare and Medicaid programs, while their Republican counterparts are seeking cuts to the two federal entitlement programs, notes NPR.

But with the threat of deadlock hanging over the committee, it will likely consider changes to Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the programs' costs and avoid triggering automatic cuts, industry observers recently told Health Plan Week.

Such changes could include a voucher program for Medicare recipients, as proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last spring, or block grants for Medicaid.

The committee also might consider cost-cutting options for Medicare and Medicaid that include changing the eligibility age for Medicare beneficiaries, "means testing" premiums, creating a "premium support" voucher for young Medicare enrollees, or expanding value-based payment arrangements, Jason Lee, senior partner and director of the Global Institute for Emerging Healthcare Practices at Computer Sciences Corp, told HPW.

For more:
- read the Health Plan Week article
- here's the NPR article
- read the Politico article