House Republicans demand answers on president's Medicare reforms

Specifically, the letter asks for details about: 

• The president's proposal to strengthen an independent board that will recommend cuts to Medicare reimbursements if they exceed a certain target;

• A new public-private partnership to reduce hospital readmissions, which the administration said would save $50 billion even though the Congressional Budget Office initially scored it as saving only $12 billion; and

• Proposals for "leveraging Medicare's purchasing power" for prescription drugs.

Some of those questions have already been answered by the administration, to a limited extent. Administration officials gave reporters a cursory explanation of the president's proposal in a conference call before his deficit speech.

Officials made it clear that the reforms to the Independent Payment Advisory Board would start in 2018, for example. Also, the drug savings refer to the idea of extending the existing rebates in the Medicaid program to the more than eight million people who are simultaneously eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.