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July 3, 1996

Growth Reduction vs Budget Cuts for Medicare: What's in a Name?

JAMA. 1996;276(1):30. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540010032021

To the Editor.  —Dr Wright1 defends proposed Republican changes to Medicare as necessary and good because, he claims, Medicare spending must be reduced to save the Medicare Trust Fund and, moreover, because a reduction in expected spending for Medicare is not actually a budget cut. These assertions are startling.The news that current Republican proposals are urgently needed to save the Medicare Trust Fund is surprising for 2 reasons. First, the trust fund covers Medicare Part A only, while more than half of Republicans' proposed cuts come from Part B. Second, for years the trustees of Medicare have issued little-noted reports explaining when in the future the trust fund could run out of money; now, suddenly, Republicans propose urgent reductions that, incidentally, are at least 3 times larger than necessary to solidify the fund.Wright's distaste for the word cut in the context of Medicare is also intriguing. Previously