Ryan budget proposal calls for Medicare vouchers, Medicaid transformation

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) is pushing this week to gain support for a healthcare reform bill. One of the legislation’s provisions is to trim the market-basket update for nursing homes.

Baucus plans to spend much of this week finalizing details, and said he will have a final proposal on Wednesday—with or without Republican support. The Finance panel will begin its bill-drafting session next week. The proposal appears to be the one most likely to pass in the Senate. It is the closest attempt at a bipartisan compromise and still retains President Obama’s general goals. But it would not necessarily please nursing home providers. A measure in the “Framework for Comprehensive Health Reform” would reduce the nursing home market-basket update. The reduction would include “adjustments to reflect expected gains in productivity.”  Baucus’ plan would also establish a Medicare Commission that would submit proposals to Congress about Medicare payments. 

Meanwhile, the president has been explaining how he would eliminate waste and abuse from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Speaking on the TV news program “60 Minutes” Sunday night, Obama said the biggest long-term problem the nation faces is the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid. Obama has supported a House measure that would curtail $532 billion in spending from Medicare over the next decade. These reductions would come from eliminating fraud and making the current system more efficient through measures such as increased investment in electronic medical records.