Bipartisan Panel to Consider Medicare Reform

The agreement lawmakers crafted to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown also created a bipartisan panel tasked with coming up with a long-term budget plan which will likely include Medicare reform measures.

moneySenate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will head the 29-member panel, which must reach a consensus by Dec. 13, according to Kaiser Health News.

Rep. Ryan recently advocated for Medicare reforms in an editorial published in The Wall Street Journal. He wrote lawmakers could require wealthy beneficiaries to pay higher Medicare premiums and reform Medigap plans to make them more efficient and less costly.

In his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal, he also called for gradually increasing the program's eligibility age from 65 to 67 and establishing a "premium support" system under which beneficiaries would receive a set amount of money to purchase private health insurance through a Medicare exchange, with traditional Medicare coverage as an option.

Medicare accounted for 22 percent of total public healthcare expenditures in 2011, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Although the program's spending growth fell to 4.6 percent in 2012 from 6.2 percent in 2011, the CBO and CMS have reported the aging baby boomer population will drive up healthcare costs.

More Articles on Medicare:
Medicare Advantage Not Hurt So Far by PPACA Cuts
Paul Ryan, Rob Portman Offer Solutions to Shutdown
CBO: National Healthcare Spending to Increase to 22% of GDP by 2038 

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