Senate committee approves resolution freezing healthcare spending

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The Senate Budget Committee Thursday approved a fiscal year 2011 budget resolution that freezes discretionary spending through fiscal year 2013 for most federal programs, including healthcare. But the resolution also includes a reserve fund that could be used to repeal the unpopular outpatient Medicare Part B therapy caps. 

Under the five-year plan, the Senate Finance Committee must make by Sept. 23 legislative changes within its jurisdiction to reduce the deficit by $2 billion over five years. This could include cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

The plan also includes a reserve fund for deficit-neutral legislation to improve healthcare. The fund could be used to increase Medicare payment rates for physicians, eliminate Medicare outpatient therapy caps, and address healthcare workforce shortages.