Bush seeks 'savings' for social programs

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President Bush proposed a $2.77 trillion budget for 2007 that trims Medicare and Medicaid outlays. The new plan arrived less than a week after the president signed the 2006 budget, which initiates cuts from these programs.

Long-term care providers responded angrily to the latest plan, which sets aside large increases for defense. Two provisions are especially unpopular. One fails to continue a market basket update in fiscal year 2007. Another eliminates Medicare bad debt payments over the next four years.
The first item could reduce nursing home reimbursement by $660 million, according to the American Health Care Association. The second, a bad payments proviso, would cut reimbursement by an additional $6.2 billion by 2011, the group claims.
Even Republican lawmakers admit that additional funding cuts from the Medicare and Medicaid programs will be a tough sell.
"Any more reductions of a significant scope could be difficult," said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the Finance Committee.
Bush's complete budget proposal can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/.