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Debt deal raises pressure on Medicare providers

Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2011
Washington policymakers demanded more savings from hospitals, doctors and other medical providers in the debt deal President Obama signed Tuesday, a move designed to protect seniors and others who rely on Medicare. But the budget cutting may end up hurting some of the neediest seniors as the federal cuts take a disproportionate toll on family physicians with many elderly patients and on hospitals that serve them. Medicare is among many government programs, including the military, that could face significant cutbacks as a result of the debt compromise. Advocates for the elderly say the Medicare cuts, though relatively small, could force medical providers to scale back services, or even stop serving them entirely. "These kinds of cutbacks do build, and you are always wondering if this is the straw that breaks the camel's back," said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a New York-based advocacy group.

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