The House Budget Committee is considering provider-friendly changes to the 2004 budget proposal it approved last week, according to knowledgeable sources. The original proposal called for a 1% cut in government spending on all mandatory programs except defense and homeland security -- which could take as much as $215 billion from Medicare in the next 10 years. "The cuts in the House budget resolution are severe and would hurt hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, home health agencies, nurses and other healthcare providers," the American Hospital Association and other provider organizations wrote in a March 18 letter to Congress. The budget committee is discussing exempting Medicare from the 1% cut. At deadline it wasn't known if Medicaid also would be spared or how far the discussions had progressed. Some House Democrats are expected to release an alternative budget proposal today. Separately, the Senate is considering a budget resolution this week that does not include explicit cuts to Medicare. -- by Jeff Tieman
House panel may spare Medicare in budget plan
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