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Four elements to how Obama plans to handle Medicare

Four elements to how Obama plans to handle Medicare

Since the State of the Union Address last month, there has been a lot of anticipation held by members of both political parties. Republicans and Democrats have been awaiting details as to how the President plans to reform health care in America.

According to a recent article published on the CNN Money website, here are a few ways in which he plans to make change:

1. Pay less for drugs: Increase the rebates the government receives for Medicare beneficiaries' medications so they are the same as the rebates given under the Medicaid program. This would save $140 billion.

2. Reduce payments for post-hospital care: Bring payments for skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, long-term care hospitals and home health care more in line with costs. Reduce payments to facilities with high rates of hospital readmission. Reduce payments to rehab centers for certain conditions, such as knee replacements and hip fractures, so they are more comparable with skilled nursing homes. Make sure centers are treating patients with greater need. This would save $50 billion.

3. Raise premiums on the wealthy and charge new enrollees more: Increase premiums for drug coverage and doctor's visits for high-income seniors by 15% beginning in 2017 and make sure 25% of beneficiaries are subject to these premiums. New beneficiaries enrolling in 2017, 2019 and 2021 would see a $25 increase in their deductibles for Part B, which covers doctors' visits, lab tests and medical supplies such as wheelchairs. New enrollees would also be responsible for a $100 co-payment for some home health services. New enrollees who buy certain comprehensive Medigap supplemental policies would also pay a 30% surcharge on their Part B premiums. All told, these additions would raise $35 billion.

4. Reduce payments to providers for unpaid debt: Lower coverage of providers' bad debts to 25%, down from the current 70%. This would save $30 billion.

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