Senate Democrats are expected to release a budget blueprint that calls for a $1.3 billion cut to Medicare spending in 2013, but flatly rejects a White House proposal to slash $200 billion from Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) told reporters this morning in Washington.
Weve rejected those cuts, Conrad said. We dont have those cuts.
The one-time, $1.3 billion reduction comes in response to a funding warning, the so-called 45% trigger, which requires lawmakers to consider proposals aimed at keeping the Medicare program fiscally solvent. Under the Senate budget proposal, the Senate Finance Committee would not be required to take any action this year, but would have to come up with the savings five years from now, Conrad said.
The committees legislative package also contains a $35 billion placeholder for a second economic stimulus package if needed, a portion of which could go towards a temporary increase in federal Medicaid dollars, the senator said.
The White House budget proposed cuts to hospital and other provider payments to make up for the lions share of its Medicare savings. President Bushs proposal alone would have cut inpatient hospital payments by nearly $4 billion in fiscal 2009 and by $64 billion over the next five years.
Conrad said that the committees budget would yield a surplus in four years. -- by Matthew DoBias
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