As Congress ponders spending cuts, health care industry, advocates urge Medicare be spared

Congress returns today and begins efforts to negotiate a budget deal that would avert the "fiscal cliff" of automatic spending cuts and tax increases, which are slated to take effect early next year.

Politico Pro: AHA To Hill: No Cuts Worse Than The Sequester
The hospital industry is worried it's going to be called upon again to withstand funding cuts as lawmakers try to prevent this winter's sequestration and the planned cut to physician payments. In an interview with POLITICO, top officials at the American Hospital Association say they're concerned that the decisions being made today aren't based on what's best for health care, but rather what's going to generate the most revenue savings (Haberkorn, 11/12).

The Hill: Nursing Homes To Congress: Stop Looming Medicare Cuts
Nursing homes are welcoming Congress back with a campaign against the sequester's looming cuts to Medicare. The American Health Care Association (AHCA) will run ads against the cuts in Beltway publications and on major cable networks starting Monday. ... "The end of the year marks the end of the line for sequestration. Something must be done to address these deep cuts to Medicare," said Mark Parkinson, AHCA president and CEO, in a statement. The AHCA represents nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities, which rely heavily on Medicare and Medicaid (Viebeck, 11/12).

The Hill: Budget-Cutters Eye Health Care Law's Insurance Subsidies
As the election fades into the rearview mirror and attention turns more seriously toward the looming "fiscal cliff," lobbyists and advocates are once again wondering whether Congress might look to the healthcare law for spending cuts. Specifically, lawmakers might be tempted to tap the health law's insurance subsidies, by far its most expensive provision, and probably the most tangible benefit it will provide. Cutting into the subsidies has been discussed before, but it's gaining new urgency as the fiscal cliff, a combination of spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect at the end of the year, draws closer (Baker, 11/12).

CQ HealthBeat: Hill Pokes At Health Care Issues Before Returning For Heavy Helping Of Medicare
Congress will take a crack at a few health care issues this week before recessing Friday and returning after Thanksgiving for a month of legislating -; which could include cuts to a wide range of Medicare providers. On tap late Tuesday is a House vote on a measure to allow the continuing sale of existing inventories of certain inhalers to treat asthma. These epinephrine inhalers contain aerosol propellants that violate chlorofluorocarbon limits put on the law books to reduce ozone that contributes to global warming. … The week also will include consideration of Medicare payments to foster the adoption of health information technology (Reichard, 11/12).

Medpage Today: Medicare Changes Likely Soon, Experts Say
As the dust continues to settle after Tuesday's election and policy wonks debate what it means for the future of healthcare, an increasing number of experts say Medicare will be the subject of likely reforms in the near future. In post-election Washington, lawmakers and the president face what is commonly called the "fiscal cliff" -- a series of expiring tax breaks, needed federal spending bills, and a periodic increase in the nation's debt ceiling all coming together at once (Pittman, 11/9).

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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