Next year promises to be a fascinating one in Washington, D.C. Despite some deep partisan differences, it appears that both political parties agree on at least one thing: the need to focus on reducing the federal budget deficit. And that’s quite a feat, given that we now have a divided Congress – the House being a Republican majority, and the Senate being a Democratic majority. Many are predicting gridlock as a result.
Of course, you can’t think seriously about reducing the federal deficit without looking at the Medicare program – it’s a major part of federal spending. One of my favorite Web sites from the Kaiser Family Foundation displays an excellent side-by-side comparison
of the six (yes, six!) different deficit and debt reduction proposals in terms of the Medicare program. None of them have broad-based political support, but the concepts will begin to find their way into various proposals. One thing that I would ask public policymakers to remember as they mull over these changes is that the hospital industry took $155 billion in cuts over 10 years to achieve national healthcare reform. For New Jersey’s hospitals, this translates into $4.5 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade. We must tread lightly when it comes to further Medicare reductions.
Hospitals already “gave at the office” in 2010 – and will continue to give over the next 10 years. If we want to ensure future access to good quality hospital care, we must find other funding sources to donate to deficit reduction.