President Obama is proposing more than $400 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade in his fiscal 2015 budget. However, most of those cuts are weighted towards future years, with only $3.5 billion occurring during 2015. In addition, the budget for HHS will be reduced by $6.1 billion, or 7.6% from the current budget. Although the President “lauds efforts to find a solution” to the Medicare SGR, he does not include an outline of a way to pay for the fix. Other incentives in the budget include increasing funding for mental health programs for children, prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from delaying the availability of generic drugs, and expanding “quality incentives” for Medicare prescription drug plans. Many national healthcare organizations oppose Medicare payment cuts, believing that they undermine providers’ ability to improve the healthcare system. The budget also notes Medicare’s transformation from a “passive payer” to an “effective purchaser of high quality, efficient care.” Furthermore, the budget highlights the ACA’s value based purchasing program and the requirement of the CMS to develop plans to implement value-based purchasing programs for SNFs, home health agencies, and ambulatory surgery centers.
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