Now we're cutting Social Security and Medicare? The deal contains the expansion of a pilot program that required people applying for disability to get the opinion of two doctors. That is a real obstacle for poor people, and in the program, it successfully reduced the number of successful applicants. But the point of a disability program is not to save money, it's to see that everyone who's entitled to the benefit gets it:
A key piece of the budget deal — and one of its costliest provisions — staves off a 52 percent premium hike that would have hit 8 million Medicare Part B enrollees next year. That fix, which is the result of a glitch in federal benefits law, is estimated to cost nearly $8 billion.
The deal would also prevent a 20 percent across-the-board cut in Social Security disability benefits for 11 million people next year, which was the result of a quickly drying-up trust fund.
“We have extended the solvency of Social Security Disability Insurance and protected millions of seniors from a significant increase in their Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles next year,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote in a statement praising the deal Tuesday morning.
In addition to averting those increases, the deal would enact a series of changes to both the disability and Medicare programs — some of which could be tough for Democrats to stomach.
Several of Pelosi’s top allies, including Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.), have made it clear over the last week that they would oppose any deal that decreased benefits.
[...] The White House and GOP have also struck a major deal on an ObamaCare provision that requires large employers to automatically enroll new employees in health plans and rollover current employees.
That measure, which has been twice delayed, has not yet gone into effect. It has already passed the House as part of its budget reconciliation measure earlier this month. That change alone was expected to save about $8 billion through 2025, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In another win for Democrats, the budget deal incorporates a cost-saving strategy for Medicaid, in which generic drug-makers are required to pay additional rebates to state Medicaid programs when their drug costs increase faster than inflation.
The idea has been pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratric presidential nomination, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who say it would help save Medicaid about $500 million over 10 years.
[...] The GOP had particularly pushed for reforms to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which would see stronger penalties for those charged with fraud and abuse, stronger oversight and reporting requirements.
The disability trust fund is facing a major budget shortfall early in 2016. This summer’s grim Social Security trustees report found that the fund would be depleted by the fourth quarter of 2016, meaning that the government could only pay out about 80 percent of what’s owed to beneficiaries.
Only because we have crazy people controlling the budget. Dealing with a budget shortfall by making disability approval a longer, harder process for eligible citizens is not exactly heartwarming.