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Congressional budget calls for Medicare health insurance overhaul Posted: April 18th, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

On April 15, Congress passed a budget bill that will fund the U.S. government through September 30th --the end of the current fiscal year. In addition to appropriating funds to various federal departments and initiatives, it also includes policy statements on a number of issues, including Medicare health insurance.

According to the Congressional budget bill, the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be exhausted by the year 2020. The GOP budget sets aside funds for a reformed senior health insurance system. Under the proposed plan, future Medicare beneficiaries will receive a government subsidy to supplement the cost of private health plans that provide guaranteed medical coverage.

Response to the budget proposal is mixed. The AARP sent a letter to Congressional members noting that Medicare changes could more than double beneficiary costs by 2022. Meanwhile, the American Senior Association praised the move, saying private market competition will actually reduce senior costs.

The budget passed on a 235 - 193 vote. The legislation must now be approved by the U.S. Senate before it can be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.