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 health-care 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 health care bill.
Medicare is the federal health care program for those 65 and older. Medicaid is the federal and state program for the poor.
About $100 million could potentially be wrung from the system over 10 years by cutting back on federal payments to states’ Medicaid systems for poor residents, according to the plan Mr. Cantor described. The burden would largely be shifted to states already tight on cash, especially those like Mississippi and Louisiana with relatively high proportions of low-income residents.