‘Super committee’ fails to reach agreement; provider groups respond

The congressional “super committee” announced Monday its failure to agree on a proposal that would reduce the nation’s deficit by $1.2 trillion, triggering across-the-board spending cuts to government programs starting in 2013.

The announcement came a few days short of the November 23 deadline in which the 12-member committee, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, was to present its suggested plan as mandated by this past summer’s Budget Control Act. Congressional aides speculated last week that a deal was unlikely as committee members could not agree on a combination of entitlement reforms, defense spending cuts and tax increases, among other funding decisions.

Included in the $1.2 trillion in triggered cuts, which take effect over the course of a decade, is a reduction to Medicare not to exceed 2 percent of the program’s yearly cost. Medicaid and Social Security are not affected by these cuts.

Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), released a statement on behalf of his association’s member facilities criticizing the outcome. “[T]o our sector, which is already struggling from rounds of reductions to Medicare and Medicaid, this is a plan that goes too far,” he said.

Many observers expect Congress to amend the law before the cuts are implemented 13 months from now. In his statement, Parkinson said AHCA is pushing for a long-term solution with “a proposal that would reduce Medicare costs for post-acute care and encourage skilled nursing facilities to reduce $5 billion worth of hospital readmissions over 10 years.”

In a separate statement, LeadingAge said it will work with Congress and the Obama administration to achieve a “fair and responsible” budget for 2013 that does not impose a “disproportionate burden on frail and low-income elders.”

“The Affordable Care Act contained reforms to the healthcare delivery system and to Medicare that are projected to reduce the growth of Medicare spending by $500 billion in the coming decade,” the LeadingAge statement read. “This is the right way to rein in excessive spending.”

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