NPR, August 3, 2011
Medicare and Medicaid have so far dodged the budget knives wielded by the GOP. But those who depend on the programs know that their luck may soon be running out, thanks to the budget deal signed by President Obama on Tuesday. "Choices have to be made by Nov. 23," says health industry consultant Robert Laszewski. "And we're going to see political blood on the floor like we have never seen before." The problem for healthcare providers -- and, potentially, patients -- is that a "supercommittee" of 12 members of Congress; six from each chamber and each party; is charged with coming up with $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction in a very short period of time. "Medicare and Medicaid are just a huge part of the budget and you can't ignore the fact that the supercommittee is going to have to deal with healthcare costs. There's just no getting around it," Laszewski says. Likely near the top of the list to get trimmed will be payments to doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers. That includes those who already saw their Medicare reimbursements cut in last year's health law. That's not sitting well with those health groups.