Clinton, GOP won't seek increase in Medicare premiums
But both sides continue the hunt for savingsJanuary 5, 1996
Web posted at: 2:50 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton's 1997 budget proposal won't include an increase in the cost of Medicare premiums, according to a report in Sunday's New York Times.
The Times report also said that Republicans, who were attacked by Democrats during last year's election campaign for proposing such increases, were unlikely to press for them this year.
The president plans to submit his budget to Congress early next month. Sources said it will include a proposal to shift the cost of home health care from one federal account to another in an attempt to alleviate some of the program's financial problems.
Clinton estimates that the Medicare trust fund will be empty by 2001 if no changes are made in the law. But a bipartisan group of experts, meeting with budget director Franklin D. Raines, said the home health care proposal was little more than a bookkeeping gimmick.
Home health care has been the fastest rising part of the Medicare program, reaching nearly $20 billion and accounting for almost 10 percent of the payments made to Medicare beneficiaries in 1996.
Republicans rejected the home health care proposal last year, saying it was not a serious suggestion, and said they would reject it again this year.
"We're looking for a signal from the president as to how real his budget will be," said Rep. Bill Archer, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. "I want to work with him on a bipartisan basis, but this proposal on home health care is a shell game, an artificial solution."
The president is likely to propose cutbacks in payments to health care providers to save money, the Times said.
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