Health industry raising alarms about cuts to Medicare after super committee failure

The implications of automatic budget cuts in 2013 are reverberating through government and the health care industry.

The Hill: Hospitals, Insurers Would Bear Brunt Of Automatic Medicare Cuts
Automatic Medicare cuts triggered by the congressional super committee's failure would hit hospitals harder than any other health industry, according to an analysis from Avalere Health. The report puts hard numbers to across-the-board cuts that stakeholders have mostly viewed in broad, general terms. But Avalere chief executive Dan Mendelson cautioned that the figures also assume the automatic cuts will actually happen -; an assumption he's not ready to make (Baker, 11/22).

The Connecticut Mirror: Super Committee Inaction Triggers Cuts, Uncertainty
[the] 2 percent reduction in Medicare funding, would be a calamity, said Matthew Barrett, executive vice president of the Connecticut Association for Health Care Facilities, which represents nursing homes. Still, he said, "That actually is the best scenario for Connecticut nursing homes." That's because the alternatives the super committee was considering could have hit the industry harder (Levin Becker, 11/22).

Politico: Medicare Genie Is Now Out Of The Bottle
The supercommittee failed to strike a deficit deal, but the terrain still changed for entitlement reform. And once Democrats -; starting with President Barack Obama -; gave ground on Medicare and other entitlements, it may be hard to take it back. ... Democrats still vehemently oppose any move to radically restructure Medicare or Medicaid, as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and other top Republicans propose. But a lot of other ideas that were once taboo for Democrats are now part of the mainstream (DoBias, 11/22).

The Associated Press/ABC News: Simpson Blasts Debt Impasse
Failure to deal with health care costs will mean costs will rise to the point that they will suck up the federal government's entire discretionary budget, Simpson said. "Anything you like - culture, arts, education, research and development, transportation and development - will all be squeezed out because of the failure to deal with the one thing that is, unquote, untouchable," Simpson said of health care costs. "How ironic" (Neary, 11/23).

Politico Pro: Congress Asked To Revisit Delivery Reform
Republicans have recently pushed back against administration estimates that patient safety efforts to reduce hospital readmissions and infections will save up to $50 billion over 10 years. ... Blair Childs, senior vice president of public affairs for Premier, an alliance of hospitals that does group purchasing, said in a statement that savings should come from eliminating waste and reforming payment models. ... Before the supercommittee came up empty, America's Health Insurance Plans was drawing attention to private market experiments in alternative delivery and payment models that had begun to show results (Norman, 11/22).

Meanwhile, Congress turns its attention to other fiscal issues -

Reuters: Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Aid Deal Likely: Aides
After another fiscal fight next month, U.S. lawmakers are likely to agree to extend payroll tax cuts and emergency unemployment assistance, senior congressional aides said ... In the House of Representatives, Republicans may attempt to hold a vote on paying for the extensions with a measure attacking President Barack Obama's healthcare programs. It could pass the House, but would likely die in the Senate (Drawbaugh, 11/22).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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