'Gang Of Six' Plan Includes Deep Health Care Cuts

The plan would repeal the health law's long-term care provision and make deep reductions in Medicare and Medicaid that would impact hospital payments. But the blueprint also would permanently address Medicare's physician payment issue.

MSNBC: Awaiting Health Care Details From 'Gang Of Six'
Obama's reference to health care spending was a reminder of a topic that hadn’t been mentioned a lot in recent weeks amid all the talk of deficits, debt, and default. … On the topic of health care costs, if gaining credibility with the bond markets is the point of the "Gang of Six" effort, then investors will just have to wait for more information. The plan is more a statement of intent than a binding mechanism for reining in health care costs. Among some Democratic leaders, there was, at best, hesitation (Curry, 7/20).

Politico: Tom Coburn Returned To Gang Of Six After Deep Health Cuts
A central figure in the Senate's "Gang of Six" on Wednesday described what he called "ferocious" negotiations over additional cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that were needed to woo back Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican whose return to the group helped cinch a plan to slash federal spending (Dobias, 7/20).

Fox News: 'Gang Of Six’ Budget Plan Would Eliminate Obama's Long-Term Care Savings Program
A key provision in President Obama's health care law that would allow Americans to save money for elderly long-term care has been put on the chopping block as part of a sweeping $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction plan proposed by a bipartisan group of senators known as the "Gang of Six." The provision is known as the CLASS Act, or the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act, and was designed to relieve pressure on Medicaid and help keep Americans out of nursing homes by enabling them to save for future senior assistance with issues like eating, bathing or dressing as they get older (Clark, 7/20).

The Boston Globe: Gang Of Six Drop Longterm Care Plan
A new insurance program for long-term care may fall casualty to the so-called "Gang of Six" plan to address the federal deficit. A little-noticed provision of President Obama's health care reform established a voluntary insurance program for in-home care, where individuals would pay premiums, then receive cash benefits should they become disabled and unable to perform basic functions like eating or dressing themselves. The bipartisan group of senators trying to develop a compromise to allow the president and Congress to raise the debt ceiling would repeal the program (Schoenberg, 7/20).

Politico: Debt Ceiling Plan Would Repeal CLASS Act
The deficit-reduction proposal released Tuesday by the reconvened Gang of Six would repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, a move that would be a major setback to advocates for improving access to long-term care. Created as part of health reform, the so-called CLASS Act was one of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's most cherished programs and one of Republicans' favorite targets. But it has critics on both sides of the aisle. The fiscal commission led by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles singled it out as an "unsustainable" entitlement that would most likely saddle taxpayers with a major new liability, a finding that deficit hawks have latched on to in their attacks  (Norman, 7/20).

CQ HealthBeat: Kahn: Gang Plan Would Mean 'Outrageous' Cuts To Hospitals
Hospital executives and health care lobbyists expressed alarm Wednesday over potential payment cuts under the "Gang of Six" plan that apparently is gaining momentum as a blueprint for $4 trillion in federal deficit reduction over a decade. They said the proposal likely would bring big new Medicare and Medicaid payment cuts on top of the more than $500 billion scheduled under the health care law. The result: hospital layoffs, reduced Medicare- and Medicaid-covered services and a watered-down expansion of health care under the overhaul law, they said (Reichard, 7/20).

The Fiscal Times: Gang of Six Deficit Plan = Bowles-Simpson Lite
A permanent "doc fix" is now slated to cost $298 billion over the next decade. To raise that money as well as another $202 billion (or is it $85 billion? The hastily slapped together plan uses both numbers, inexplicably separated by a slash), the plan calls for new "health savings" that would "maintain the essential health-care services that the poor and elderly rely upon." Whether the plan needs to come up with $202 billion or $85 billion on top of the $298 billion, it will be hard for Medicare and Medicaid to achieve those goals without cutting into core programs, advocates say (Goozner, 7/21).

Modern Healthcare: Associations Hail Deficit Plan's 'Doc Fix'
A proposed deficit deal introduced this week by the so-called Gang of Six senators won the praise of representatives of over 750,000 physicians for its inclusion of a 10-year "doc fix" in Medicare payments. The bipartisan agreement that would slash deficits by up to $3.7 trillion over the next decade includes a 10-year, $298 billion suspension of Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula (Daly, 7/20). 

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