Obama's healthcare budget: ER visit but no cure

The San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press, February 15, 2011

President Barack Obama's budget fixes a looming cut to doctors that could devastate Medicare, but it offers no cure for the underlying problem of rising healthcare costs that threatens to break the bank. It's like stabilizing a patient in the emergency room and sending him home until the next crisis. The budget would stave off for two more years a threatened 28 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors, a relic of a 1990s budget law that failed to restrain costs. That would avoid severe disruptions for seniors, since doctors might start bailing out of Medicare if lawmakers let the cuts go through next year. But with more than 100 million Americans already covered by programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and children's health insurance, Obama's budget is largely silent on costs that keep growing faster than the economy, tax revenues and workers' wages. And starting in 2014, the health care overhaul will add another 30 million people who depend on the government for coverage.

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