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Cuts would only shift healthcare costs

The Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2011

The $350 billion or so in potential cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years that were identified in budget negotiations would shift the cost of medicine to public hospitals, the states and individuals, but wouldn’t do much to tackle rising healthcare costs themselves. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) this week presented a list of proposed cuts to the White House as part of the broader negotiations to reach a deficit-cutting deal. The cuts include lower federal payments to hospitals with many poor patients and to state Medicaid programs, new patient copayments for clinical lab work, and reduced payments to nursing homes and rural hospitals. The cuts would come on top of about $500 billion in cuts to Medicare payments made to allow passage of the 2009 healthcare bill. Healthcare analysts on the left and right say negotiators are pushing the limits of what can be cut without more-fundamental structural changes to the programs.