Possible expansion of debt ceiling could ease pressure for healthcare cuts

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Federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are working on a compromise deal for cutting the U.S. deficit. A national debt default limit is set to hit Monday if a plan is not agreed to. Any such deal is expected to make relatively minor spending cuts now and put off decisions on healthcare spending until after the 2012 election. Such a delay could benefit long-term care providers since significant cuts to Medicare and other programs previously have been proposed.

Top Republicans and the White House have expressed interest in setting long-term deficit-reduction goals. But they differ on what should happen if certain triggers are hit: The GOP favors only mandated spending cuts, while Democrats also would like tax increases a part of the equation. Of note for many providers is that Republicans have backed off recent calls for Medicare cuts to programs for the elderly.