Deficit Panel Recommends Ways To Curb Medicare, Medicaid Costs

Kaiser Health News / McClatchy: "Offering the latest tough-love strategy to reduce the nation's debt, a panel of high-profile Republicans and Democrats is scheduled on Wednesday to recommend that Medicare beneficiaries pick up far more of their health care costs and the government substantially curb the amount both Medicare and Medicaid programs can grow in future years." The panel will present the findings of the debt reduction task force that was created by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Some "warned the political prospects of the plan seemed doubtful —particularly for some of the more far-reaching ideas, such as limiting the amount the government would spend on Medicare beneficiaries. ... starting in 2018, traditional Medicare would be turned into a 'premium support' program that would limit the rate of increase of federal spending per beneficiary to one percent above the growth rate of the economy. Medicare beneficiaries would be charged higher premiums if costs rose faster, and be given the option of buying a private insurance plan. … The task force also recommends slowing the growth rate of Medicaid" (Galewitz and Rau, 11/16).

The Fiscal Times: "Former Congressional Budget Director Alice Rivlin and former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., have been combating public debt for decades," and will be releasing "some of the most far-reaching proposals yet for sharply reducing the federal debt, beginning in 2020." Among other things, the task force suggests cutting "projected Medicare and Medicaid costs by $756 billion over the coming decade. ... Because spiraling costs for Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health programs are the biggest driver of long-term debt, the Rivlin-Domenici commission proposes reinforcing cost-control measures" (Yarrow, 11/17).

Bloomberg: "The plan also makes $756 billion in cuts to health care through 2020, including raising Medicare premiums from 25 percent to 35 percent over five years, and starts a premium support program to limit growth in federal spending on the health-care program for the elderly" (Przbyla, 11/17).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.