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Obama Budget Plan Cuts Deficit by $4 Trillion, Strengthens Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security

Around two-thirds of budget is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security - watch video

Click to video of President's speech.

April 13, 2011 - President Barack Obama on Wednesday shared his plans to cut the deficit by $4 trillion in 12 years, which, according to a fact sheet distributed by the White House, includes saving $480 billion in health care costs by 2023. Obama proposes holding Medicare cost growth down by strengthening the Independent Payment Advisory Board and making Medicaid more flexible without using block grants. And, about the other program vital to senior citizens, Social Security, his fact sheet said, “No current beneficiary should see the basic benefit reduced; nor will we accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations.”

Medicare and Medicaid received a considerable amount of attention in the President’s remarks and fact sheets handed out by the White House staff. Social Security, too, received considerable attention.

The President said he will preserve Medicare and Medicaid and will not allow Medicare to “become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs.”

He said he will “slow the growth of Medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services seniors need.”

In the speech he also said, “Part of this American belief that we are all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us.

 

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“’There but for the grace of God go I,’ we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities. We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further – we would not be a great country without those commitments.

‘So here’s the truth. Around two-thirds of our budget is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security. Programs like unemployment insurance, student loans, veterans’ benefits, and tax credits for working families take up another 20%. What’s left, after interest on the debt, is just 12 percent for everything else. That’s 12 percent for all of our other national priorities like education and clean energy; medical research and transportation; food safety and keeping our air and water clean.”

In comparing his proposal for Medicare and Medicaid to the Republican plan, he said, “… (The Republican plan is) a vision that says America can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made to care for our seniors. It says that ten years from now, if you’re a 65 year old who’s eligible for Medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 more than you would today. It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn’t worth enough to buy insurance, tough luck – you’re on your own. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it.

This is a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. And who are those 50 million Americans? Many are someone’s grandparents who wouldn’t be able afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down’s syndrome. Some are kids with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.

…The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. Here, the difference with the House Republican plan could not be clearer: their plan lowers the government’s health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. Our approach lowers the government’s health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself.

Here's a look at the health care section of the fact sheet, as released by the White House:

Details of the President’s Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility

Health Care

   ● Medicare and Medicaid Savings of $480 Billion by 2023 and At Least an Additional $1 Trillion over the Subsequent Decade, Providing Better Care at Lower Costs:

   ● Building on the Affordable Care Act, the President is proposing additional reforms to Medicare and Medicaid designed to strengthen these critical programs by reducing waste, increasing accountability, promoting efficiency, and improving the quality of care, without shifting the cost of care to our seniors or people with disabilities.

   ● The framework will save $340 billion over ten years and $480 billion by 2023 (including the proposals already included in the President’s Budget). This framework includes the same aggregate savings that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposed in his November 2010 plan with Alice Rivlin and an amount sufficient to fully pay to reform the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) physician payment formula while still reducing the deficit.

   ● Over the subsequent decade, the President’s proposal will save well over $1 trillion by further bending the cost curve, doubling the savings from the Affordable Care Act.

   ● The President’s framework offers a stark contrast with the House Republican plan that would increase seniors’ health costs by $6,400 annually starting in 2022, raise health insurance premiums for middle-class Americans and small businesses, cut Federal Medicaid spending by one-third by the end of the decade, and increase the number of uninsured by 50 million.

   ● The President’s framework proposes specific reforms to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid over the long term, including:

   ● Addressing the long-term drivers of Medicare cost growth: The President’s framework would strengthen the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the Affordable Care Act. The IPAB has been highlighted by economists and health policy experts as a critical contributor to Medicare’s solvency and sound operations. Under the Affordable Care Act, IPAB analyzes the drivers of excessive and unnecessary Medicare cost growth. When Medicare growth per beneficiary exceeds growth in nominal GDP per capita plus 1 percent, IPAB recommends to Congress policies to reduce the rate of growth to meet that target, while not harming beneficiaries’ access to needed services. Congress must consider IPAB’s recommendations or, if it disagrees, enact policies that achieve equivalent savings. If neither acts, then the Secretary of Health and Human Services would have to develop and implement a proposal to achieve the savings target.

   ● The President’s framework will strengthen IPAB to act as a backstop to the other Medicare reforms by ensuring that Medicare spending growth does not outpace our ability to pay for it over the long run, while improving the program and keeping Medicare beneficiaries’ premium growth under control. Specifically, it would:

   ● Set a new target of Medicare growth per beneficiary growing with GDP per capita plus 0.5 percent. This is consistent both with the reductions in projected Medicare spending since the Affordable Care Act was passed and the additional reforms the President is proposing.

   ● Give IPAB additional tools to improve the quality of care while reducing costs, including allowing it to promote value-based benefit designs that promote proven services like prevention without shifting costs to seniors.

   ● Give IPAB additional enforcement mechanisms such as an automatic sequester as a backstop for IPAB, Congress, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

   ● Reforming the Federal-State partnerships to strengthen Medicaid and promote simplicity, efficiency, and accountability: Under current law, States face a patchwork of different Federal payment contributions for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The President’s framework would replace the current complicated Federal matching formulas with a single matching rate for all program spending that rewards States for efficiency and automatically increases if a recession forces enrollment and State costs to rise.

   ● In addition, the President has called on the National Governors Association (NGA) to make recommendations for ways to reform and strengthen Medicaid, and the framework will consider the ideas that its Task Force produces. The President also supports reform of Medicaid to incentivize more efficient, higher quality, care for high-cost beneficiaries, including those who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. These nine million beneficiaries comprise 15 percent of Medicaid enrollment but consume nearly 40 percent of total Medicaid spending.

   ● Improving patient safety: Together with employers, States, hospitals, physicians and nurses, the Administration has launched a new public-private partnership called Partnership for Patients that will help improve the quality, safety and affordability of health care for all Americans. The two goals of this new Partnership are: preventing patients from getting injured or sicker while they are in the hospital and helping patients heal without complication. Achieving the initiative’s goal would mean more than 1.6 million patients will recover from illness without a preventable complication, reducing costs by up to $50 billion in Medicare and billions more in Medicaid over the next 10 years.

   ● Cutting unnecessary prescription drug spending: The framework would limit excessive payments for prescription drugs by leveraging Medicare’s purchasing power – similar to what was called for by the bipartisan Fiscal Commission. It would speed up the availability of generic biologics, and prohibit brand-name companies from entering into “pay for delay” agreements with generic companies. And, it would implement Medicaid management of high prescribers and users of prescription drugs.

   ● Reducing abuse and increasing accountability in Medicaid and Medicare: The framework would clamp down on States’ use of provider taxes to lower their own spending while not providing additional health services through Medicaid; recover erroneous payments from Medicare Advantage; establish upper limits on Medicaid payments for durable medical equipment; and take other actions to improve program integrity.

   ● A major contrast with the House Republican approach. The President’s framework rejects plans that would end Medicare as we know it or transform Medicaid into a dramatically underfunded block grant, putting at serious risk not only seniors but also the most vulnerable children and people with disabilities. Some of the major problems with the House Republican approach include:

   ● The House Republican plan does nothing to reduce health costs. Instead it actually increases costs by doing nothing to reform the way health care is delivered in addition to putting a larger fraction of the burden on beneficiaries and States.

   ● In the first year the Republican plan goes into effect, a typical 65-year-old who becomes eligible for Medicare would pay an extra $6,400 for health care, more than doubling what he or she would pay if the plan were not adopted.

   ● States would get one-third less for Medicaid by 2021, potentially leaving 15 million people without coverage, including seniors in nursing homes, people with disabilities, children and pregnant women.

   ● The House Republican plan would no longer guarantee the same level of benefits and choices that seniors have today in Medicare, because the proposal allows private health plans to determine benefits, raise cost sharing, and limit choice of doctors and hospitals.  

Social Security Details

The President does not believe that Social Security is a driver of our near-term deficit problems or is currently in crisis. But he supports bipartisan efforts to strengthen Social Security for the long haul, because its long-term challenges are better addressed sooner than later to ensure that it remains the rock-solid benefit for older Americans that it has been for past generations. The President in the State of the Union laid out his principles for Social Security reform which he believes should form the basis for bipartisan negotiations that could proceed in parallel to deficit negotiations:

   ● Strengthen retirement security for the low-income and vulnerable; maintain robust disability and survivors’ benefits.

   ● No privatization or weakening of the Social Security system; reform must strengthen Social Security and restore long-term solvency.

   ● No current beneficiary should see the basic benefit reduced; nor will we accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations.

 

Some of this information is reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

 

Financial Relief for Volkswagen Diesel Owners

You may be eligible for money damages if you owned or leased one of these VW, Porsche or Audi vehicles.

In the major scandal of 2015, Volkswagen cheated you and the world. They rigged diesel emission controls so you, nor regulators, would know how much pollution their cars were adding to our environment.

They were caught and have reserved $7.3 billion to help "make it right" with victims.

If you owned or leased one of these vehicles, contact us now.

 Beth Janicek, Board Certified Personal Injury Attorney Janicek Law attorneys are actively pursuing these cases against VW. Do Not Wait...

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1-877-795-3425 or Email

Vehicles Involved

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VW Golf SportWagen (2015)

VW Beetle (2012–2015)

VW Passat (2012-2015)

Audi A3 (2010-2015)

VW Touareg (2009–2016)

Porsche Cayenne (2015)

Audi A6, A7, A8, Q5 Quattro (2016)

 

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