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Officials see $8b in Medicare savings

Kathleen Sebelius discussed Medicare’s future. Kathleen Sebelius discussed Medicare’s future.
Associated Press / August 3, 2010

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WASHINGTON — The new health overhaul law is starting to produce savings for Medicare and will eventually add more than a decade of solvency to the program’s trust fund, the Obama administration said in an upbeat report yesterday.

Medicare will save about $8 billion by the end of next year, and as much as $575 billion over the rest of the decade, the report said.

“This reflects the priority we put on acting quickly to secure Medicare’s future,’’ Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters. “We are going to ensure that seniors and Americans with disabilities get more value when they go to the hospital or to see a doctor.’’

Release of the analysis comes ahead of the official annual financial checkup for Social Security and Medicare from program trustees, due later this week. Yesterday’s report provides support for the administration’s position that the health care law strengthens health care for seniors, but the trustees’ report could well call attention to deeper problems, as has happened in the past.

Republicans have argued that spending cuts called for in the health care law will undermine Medicare, and the government’s nonpartisan analysts have questioned whether some of the reductions are politically sustainable.

Sebelius dismissed speculation that a future Congress would roll back the cuts.