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  CMS Study Finds Senate Health Reform Bill Would Increase Spending & Coverage  

CMS chief actuary Richard Foster released an analysis of the Senate healthcare reform bill on Friday. The Hill (1/10, Bolton, subscription required) and the New York Times (1/9, Herszenhorn) "Prescriptions" blog see the analysis as a blow to Democrats, with the Hill reporting that the study "raises doubts over Medicare savings claims" in the Senate bill. The New York Times leads noting that the study "found that the Senate version of major healthcare legislation would increase total national health spending from 2010 to 2019 by $222.3 billion, or 0.6 percent, more than projected under current law." Still, Foster's "actuarial report does not take into account a number of the proposed tax provisions in the bill that would increase government revenues." HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "issued a statement on Friday night welcoming Mr. Foster's report as evidence that the legislation will make crucially-needed improvements to the nation's healthcare system."


        According to the Washington Post (1/9, Murray) "44" blog, however, the report showed that the "final version of the Senate healthcare bill may have the effect of expanding coverage to more uninsured people while not increasing overall healthcare spending quite as steeply as previously anticipated." The CMS study offers "a somewhat brighter picture" than previous studies, according to the Post, as it "found that an additional 34 million US citizens and legal residents would receive health coverage under the revised Senate bill by 2019, compared to the 31 million estimated by the Congressional Budget Office."


        The ABC News (1/9) "Political Punch" blog likewise focused on the expansion of coverage, but added that the study has "both good and bad news for the Democrats."


        Group urges Congress to increase coverage or reduce Medicare cuts in reform bill. CQ HealthBeat (1/9, Reichard, subscription required) reported that a letter from the American Hospital Association to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Friday urged congressional negotiators to "adopt House-passed provisions to cover the uninsured or else reduce the cuts in Medicare hospital payments planned by lawmakers to help pay for expanded coverage." AHA explained that the "House bill would result in coverage of 96 percent of all those legally residing in the United States while the Senate bill would only cover 94 percent." According to CQ, "few observers expect hospitals to unleash an all-out attack on overhaul legislation if they don't get the coverage levels they want, predicting they'll unleash their lobbyists instead in coming years to reduce the Medicare cuts in overhaul legislation."


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