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Associated Press, Published February 26 2009

Budget would slow Medicare, Medicaid growth

WASHINGTON (AP) – The government’s massive health insurance programs for the elderly and poor would grow more slowly under President Barack Obama’s proposed budget.

Obama wants to squeeze Medicaid and Medicare spending – including slimmer payments to private insurance plans – to help create a 10-year, $634 billion fund billed as a “down payment” on health care reform.

Obama’s budget proposal released Thursday acknowledges that even more money will be needed to achieve health coverage for all, but doesn’t say where it would come from.

Experts say that goal could cost more than $1 trillion over 10 years.

Overall spending for the Health and Human Services Department – including discretionary spending, Medicare and Medicaid – would grow from $764 billion to $821 billion.

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