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Federal debt commission finalizes recommendations for Medicare changes Posted: December 8th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

After releasing a draft document in November, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has finalized its recommendations regarding how best to reform the federal budget process. The commission was created by President Barack Obama in response to concerns that the federal deficit is growing uncontrollably.

The recommendations come as part of a 66 page report entitled "The Moment of Truth." Within the document are suggestions that Medicare be reformed to shift more cost-sharing to recipients. The proposed changes to Medicare include the following provisions:

  • Establish a combined $550 deductible for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B
  • Require 20% co-insurance payments on all services received once the deductible is met
  • Reduce the co-insurance amount to 5% once an individual pays $5,500 in out-of-pocket costs
  • Cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $7,500
  • Prohibit Medigap supplemental health insurance plans from covering the first $500 of an enrollee's deductible or co-insurance
  • Limit Medigap coverage to pay only 50% of the next $5,000 in Medicare co-insurance

In its report, the commission notes that the current Medicare system uses a "hodge-podge" of premiums, co-pays and deductibles. The proposal streamlines the system for seniors while also saving nearly $150 billion through 2020.