- - Tuesday, April 5, 2011

BUDGET

Sources: GOP readies short-term bill if needed

Republican officials said GOP lawmakers are ready with another short-term spending bill if needed to avoid a government shutdown threatened for Friday.

These officials said a bill to finance the government for one week will be brought to the House floor if deadlocked talks on a longer-term measure fail to yield a compromise.

They said the stopgap bill would include about $12 billion in cuts in domestic programs and include enough money to finance the Defense Department through the end of the budget year on Sept. 30.

The talks are hung up on Republican demands for deeper spending cuts than either the Obama administration or Senate Democrats want.

President Obama invited top lawmakers to the White House for a meeting Tuesday on the issue.

HEALTH CARE

Medicare Advantage plans to raise reimbursements

Health insurers offering private Medicare Advantage plans will see an average net 0.4 percent increase in federal reimbursements next year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Monday.

The increase is lower than the 1.6 percent net increase proposed in February by the agency that runs the nation’s health insurance plan for the elderly and disabled.

Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the lower reimbursement rate reflects economic changes since the February proposal and does not indicate any Medicare policy adjustments.

The net rate increase is an average. It will vary by plan depending on geographic location and their quality star rating, Mr. Blum said.

“We believe that the final rates being announced will continue to see a very stable and very attractive Part C program for 2012,” Mr. Blum said.

Medicare Advantage plans are run through private health insurers and offered as alternatives to traditional fee-for-service Medicare plans.

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