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Bush's Budget Proposal Would Cut Medicare Funding
Date:2/4/2008

e Medicare budget will become the norm until Medicare itself changes, he said. "We can keep our national commitment, but to do this we need to change our management of Medicare," Leavitt said.

Under the president's plan, the annual growth of Medicare spending would slow to 5 percent instead of the 7 percent currently projected. Similarly, spending growth would slow from 7.3 percent to 7 percent for Medicaid.

Medicare is an inefficient system and needs to be changed, Leavitt charged. Changing the system means putting more responsibility into the hands of consumers, enabling them to make their own health-care decisions, he said.

"If consumers were allowed to make the decisions in an efficient market, through electronic medical records, through quality measures, through cost comparisons and choices and incentives, their decisions would be far more precise and wise," he said. "It would produce better health, and at a lower cost."

But at least one critic believes a shrinking Medicare budget would hurt consumers and the health-care system.

"President Bush's proposed cuts to Medicare would hurt older and disabled Americans and take a wrecking ball to many essential hospitals across the country," Robert M. Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center, said in a prepared statement. "It is indefensible for the President to propose hurting America's grandparents while maintaining his rabid defense of Medicare overpayments to for-profit health insurance companies."

Under the Bush proposed budget, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would receive an additional $130 million added for fiscal year 2009, which begins Oct. 1.

"The agency's 2009 budget includes $2.4 billion, which includes direct budget authority and user fees," John Dyer, FDA's deputy commissioner for operations and chief operating officer, said during a Monday afternoon teleconference. "That's a 5.7 percent increase over the 2008 budget just
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