Obama proposes big cuts to healthcare industries, largely spares benefits

{mosads}Most of the proposed cuts to healthcare providers have been in Obama’a past budgets. The biggest-ticket items — including more aggressive discounts for prescription drugs — have so far proven to be non-starters with congressional Republicans.

Obama’s proposed cuts to Medicare benefits are small by comparison. They add up to roughly $68 billion, and avoid the most politically controversial proposals.

As expected, the biggest benefit cut was reserved for Social Security, where Obama embraced a controversial proposal known as “chained CPI” that would ultimately reduce seniors’ Social Security payments.

Obama proposed greater means-testing for parts of Medicare — charging wealthier seniors a higher premium. That would save the federal government about $50 billion over the next decade, according to the budget proposal.

The budget also proposes additional changes to the premiums seniors pay for drugs that are administered in a doctor’s office, totaling more than $6 billion.

One idea is sure to fall flat on Capitol Hill — bolstering the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the Medicare cost-cutting panel created by Obama’s signature healthcare law. Obama has proposed beefing up the panel in the past, either by giving it a more aggressive cost-control target or moving more providers under its purview.

The IPAB is a leading focus of GOP criticism of the healthcare law. They argue that unelected experts should not have control over Medicare’s payments, and that cuts to providers will ultimately lead to fewer choices for seniors.


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