Health Features of the Presidential Budget

February 27, 2009

While the shape of overall health reform is still unclear, the word I’m getting is that the cost containment features in the President’s new budget have a very good chance of being passed.  These include:

  • Cutting radiology costs by $70 million over five years, and by $260 million over the next ten years.  This is to be done primarily through the use of Radiology Benefit Managers.  (The Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance has already issued a protest.)
  • Cutting home health payments to “align with costs” (meaning that providers’ profit margins are too high).
  • Basing hospital reimbursements on quality indicators (which the Administration apparently sees as having an overall downward effect).
  • Cutting hospital payments when a patient is readmitted within 30 days of discharge (which happens in 17% of Medicare cases).
  • Increasing premiums for higher-income Medicare enrollees in drug benefit programs, as is currently done for Plan B.  (The proposed cutoff figure is $85,000/year, a number which may rise during negotiations).

We’ll keep tracking these proposals as they come through.

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