If Congress continues to let Medicare provider reimbursement increases soar, the House health bill could increase the federal budget deficit by $141 billion over 10 years.
The Concord Coalition, Arlington, Va., has published that estimate in an analysis of the bill, H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.
The Senate Finance Committee’s health bill — S. 1796, the America’s Healthy Future Act bill – would try to hold down federal health care spending by limiting future increases in the rates that Medicare pays to doctors.
CBO analysts note in their review of S. 1796 that, up till now, Congress never has gone ahead with letting limits on Medicare reimbursement rate increases take effect.
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H.R. 3962 also includes a provision that would curb Medicare provider rate increases.
Successfully putting a brake on Medicare reimbursement rates “is unlikely to happen, particularly in the absence of a Medicare Commission (such as that contained in the Senate Finance bill) to monitor costs and recommend new savings with an up-or-down vote in Congress,” Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert Bixby warns in a comment on H.R. 3962.
With a “Medicare doc fix” included in the H.R. 3962 budget impact analysis, the bill would increase the budget deficit by about $14 billion per year over the next decade, Bixby predicts.
Another bill provision, the Community Living and Assistance Services and Support Act section, would start a voluntary, government-run long term care program. Participants would have to pay into the program for several years before they could file claims.