Archive for deficit reduction


Federal Health Policy Update for Monday, August 8`

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Monday, August 8.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.


On Sunday, the Senate passed the Democrats’ health care, climate, and tax bill, H.R. 5376, The Inflation Reduction Act, by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.  Health care provisions in the reconciliation bill include:

  • allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices
  • limiting out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare enrollees to $2,000 a year
  • extending for three years enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies for individuals to buy health insurance on the marketplace.

The bill now heads to the House, which expects to pass it Friday.  Find the Democrats’ summary of the bill’s health care provisions here.

White House

President Biden has issued an “Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services” to build on action the administration has taken to protect access to reproductive health care services.  The executive order coincides with the first meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access and includes actions to support patients traveling out of state for medical care, even raising …

CBO Targets Health Care in Options for Reducing Deficit

Every year the Congressional Budget Office publishes a menu of options for reducing federal spending and the federal budget deficit.  As in the past, this year’s compendium includes a number of options to reduce federal health care spending and raises federal revenue through health care initiatives.

The cost-cutting options include:

  • establish caps on federal spending for Medicaid
  • limit states’ taxes on health care providers
  • reduce federal Medicaid matching rates
  • change the cost-sharing rules for Medicare and restrict Medigap insurance
  • raise the age of eligibility for Medicare to 67
  • reduce Medicare’s coverage of bad debt
  • consolidate and reduce federal payments for graduate medical education at teaching hospitals
  • use an alternative measure of inflation to index social security and other mandatory programs

Options to raise additional revenue include:

  • increase premiums for Parts B and D of Medicare
  • reduce tax subsidies for employment-based health insurance
  • increase the payroll tax rate for Medicare hospital insurance

Learn more about the CBO’s recommendations, how they might be implemented, and their potential implications in the CBO report Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2019 to 2028.

Budget Talks Could Focus on Sequestration

Upcoming federal budget talks may very well focus on addressing what are perceived to be the more damaging cuts resulting from sequestration – the two percent across-the-board cut in federal spending required under the 2011 Budget Control Act.

While Medicaid was not affected by the sequester, all Medicare payments have been cut two percent since January 1, 2012, and other health care-related funding has been affected by the law as well.

Now, participants in the budget conference committee created as part of the deal to end the federal government shutdown are suggesting that instead of pursuing a major reordering of federal spending, they may very well focus on addressing the most damaging cuts required by the federal budget sequester.

Learn more about what the participants in the upcoming negotiations expect in this Washington Post article.…

PA Officials Estimate Sequestration’s Impact

Now that federal budget sequestration has taken effect, Pennsylvania state officials are busy calculating its potential effects on various health-related state activities.

As part of planning for sequestration, officials have developed estimates in a wide variety of areas, including cuts in substance abuse programs, meals for low-income seniors, food programs, immunizations, AIDS/HIV screenings, medical tests for women and children, and more.  They also are looking at how much Pennsylvania health care providers will lose in Medicare payments and research funding and how many jobs might be lost across the state as a result of significant reductions in federal spending under sequestration.

For a closer look at the anticipated impact of sequestration on these and other aspects of health care spending in Pennsylvania, see this article in the Pittsburgh Business Times.…

Sequestration 101

Unless Congress and the President act in the next week, a process called “sequestration” – a product of the federal Budget Control Act of 2011 – will take effect in which significant cuts in federal spending will automatically and immediately take effect.

Significantly, from the perspective of hospitals, all Medicare payments to hospitals will be cut two percent.  (Medicaid is not affected by sequestration).

But what is sequestration and what are its implications for Medicare and those who depend on Medicare to pay for their patients’ services?

Learn more about sequestration here, on The Medicare Newsgroup web site, where you also will find several FAQs on different aspects of sequestration and its implications for Medicare.…