When it comes to Medicare spending and the federal budget, numerous proposals have been put forth to contain costs. These include everything from reducing payments to providers, trimming benefits for beneficiaries, increasing the amount of money beneficiaries pay for the program, radically restructuring the Medicare program to raising the age of eligibility.
The 2011 supercommittee of Congress, which was comprised of 12 lawmakers and co-chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), was responsible for coming up with a plan to help reduce the federal deficit, and it reviewed many ideas for slowing the growth in Medicare spending.
Individual members of Congress also have proposed ideas to cut spending in Medicare. For example, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has proposed a plan to convert Medicare into a voucher-type program. Beneficiaries would get an amount equal to average Medicare outlays, and could then use the funds to buy a policy from an insurance company.
There have also been discussions of reducing payments to skilled nursing facilities, and imposing a new 10 percent co-payment for people receiving home health care. Laboratory tests and imaging tests, such as the MRI, might have new co-payments imposed. Drugs and other therapies administered in the doctor’s office, such as costly chemotherapy treatments, could have increased payments.