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Cost Control may be Added to Medicare

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WASHINGTON, Nov 04, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The Bush administration joined House Republicans in pushing Congress to vote on possible cutbacks in Medicare if the costs rise faster than expected.

The Senate has offered a "bipartisan Senate staff option," making it more likely that some cost-control may be included in the final version of the Medicare reform bill, over objections of some Democrats and senior groups, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Both proposals would fundamentally change the financing of Medicare and make it more difficult for Congress to enhance benefits, payments to doctors or coverage for more outpatient services.

The proposed cost controls would "undermine Medicare's protection for the elderly," said Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina, senior Democrat on the budget committee.

The House proposal of Republican negotiators would have Medicare declared "programmatically insolvent" if its trustees found that general tax revenue would account for more than 45 percent of Medicare spending at any point in the next seven years, the Times said.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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