Medicare Facing Financial Challenges

The fuss over Medicare payments and funding continues. HHS secretary Mike Leavitt responded to a new measure (H Res 1368) by Congress in a July 24 press release, saying the pending legislation “… will do nothing to resolve the enormous financial challenges presented by Medicare in the near future.”

On July 23, the House Rules Committee approved a measure that would delay consideration of President Bush’s Medicare “trigger” bill. The House then approved the rule (H Res 1368) July 24 with a vote of 231-184, delaying consideration of the bill for the remainder of the 110th Congress. The resolution does not require Senate action, the AP/Arizona Daily Star reports.

For two years running, Medicare has pulled more than 45 percent of its funding from general government revenue, Medical News Today reports. As required by the “trigger” provision in the 2003 Medicare law, the Bush administration responded to the deficit by issuing a legislative proposal on Feb. 15. As savings measures, the bill recommends increasing Medicare prescription drug benefit premiums for higher-income beneficiaries, capping non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, and requiring providers to implement EHRs.

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