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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

War funds to patch up Medicare?

The seemingly never-ending discussions on the Medicare sustainable growth rate has taken a brow-raising turn: Some lawmakers are now eyeing leftover war funds to make up the payment solution. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the troop drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan will result in around $838 billion in unused overseas contingency operations (OCO) funds by 2022. The American Medical Association has endorsed the idea, stating that there is bipartisan support for the move in Congress.

But such a move isn’t as easy as moving funds from one place to another. Rep. David Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House-Senate committee charged with sorting out a compromise, said it’s outside the scope of the conference, as it’s not in the House or Senate bills.

Another issue is that using the funds would violate the pay-as-you-go rules of Congress. OCO funds are discretionary while Medicare is mandatory, so waiving the rules and gathering votes to use the discretionary funding may be no easy task.

But there is support for the measure, with Democrats and Republicans alike remaining open to the measure. Expect more mad scrambling and endless debate as the March 1st deadline draws closer.