On March 28, The New York Times reported that President Obama and congressional Republicans are discussing seriously the possibility of combining Parts A and B of the Medicare program, with the aim to “produce significant savings and end the politically polarizing debate over Republican plans to privatize the insurance program for older Americans.”
The report, by Jackie Calmes and Robert Pear, noted that, “While the two remain far apart on the central issue of new tax revenue, recent statements from both sides show possible common ground on curbing costs of Medicare, suggesting some lingering chance, however small, for a budget bargain.”
The Times report goes on to say this: “In particular, participants say, the President told House Republicans that he was open to combining Medicare’s coverage for hospitals and doctor services. That would create a single deductible that could increase out-of-pocket costs for many future beneficiaries, but also could pay for a cap on their total expenses and reduce the need to buy Medigap supplementary insurance.”
The report quoted a speech given by Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the number-two House Republican, who had proposed that concept in a speech in February, and posited that, “While Mr. Cantor’s proposal got little attention at the time, its echo by Mr. Obama hints at a new route towards compromise” in the currently deadlocked talks on the federal budget, “in contrast with the budget that House Republicans passed this month that has no chance of Senate approval.”
Healthcare Informatics will post updates on this evolving story for its readers.