Monday, February 05, 2007

Bush budget trims health care funds

Health care providers would get smaller pay increases when caring for the elderly, poor and disabled under President Bush's budget plan submitted to Congress on Monday.

The recommendations, if adopted, would trim Medicare spending by $66 billion over five years. That means the health care program for seniors would grow at a 6.7 percent clip rather than a 7.6 percent rate, budget officials said.

Bush also calls for reducing Medicaid spending by about $25 billion over five years, which would just slightly dent the more than $1.2 trillion the federal government will spend on health care for the poor over the next five years. Congress would have to sign off on about half of the proposed Medicaid savings, while the remainder are regulatory changes that administration will pursue.

The president, who said he seeks a balanced budget by 2012, took aim at the two programs, which account for $1 out of every $4 spent by the federal government. However, the president called for smaller reductions last year, and those proposals went nowhere.

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