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White House, Congress might consider combining Medicare Parts A and B

March 28, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Senior Editor
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President Obama and Congressional Republicans seem prepared to make significant changes to Medicare in order to end the argumentative stalemate over what to do about the costs and challenges within the federal healthcare system, according to an article in the New York Times.

“In particular, participants say, the president told House Republicans that he was open to combining Medicare’s coverage for hospitals and doctor services,” the Times article reports. “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.”

This isn’t the first time the idea of combining Medicare Parts A and B has arisen. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va) voiced the idea in a February speech: “We should begin by ending the arbitrary division between Part A, the hospital program, and Part B, the doctor services,” he said. “We can create reasonable and predictable levels of out-of-pocket expenses without forcing seniors to rely on Medigap plans. Seniors who choose to receive their healthcare treatment through a group of doctors and hospitals working together to control costs, should share in the savings through lower Medicare premiums and out of pocket costs. This is both cost effective and good for seniors.”

Yet the White House and Democrats also seem to stand firm on the concept of tit-for-tat, with many saying no compromise on Medicare will happen unless Republicans agree to new tax rates for the wealthy, the Times notes.

Changes to Medicare are predicted to become part of the president’s budget, scheduled to be released April 10.

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