KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House And Senate Budget Negotiators Reach A Deal

Some say the agreement brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., will create breathing room to allow lawmakers to try to address major federal spending drivers, such as health care and entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

USA Today: Leaders In Congress Unveil Two-Year Budget Deal
Budget negotiators announced Tuesday a bipartisan deal to set spending levels for the federal government for two years and partially replace unpopular spending cuts with other savings. ... If approved, the agreement would put the congressional budget process back on track, allowing for passage of the 12 annual bills that cover federal spending other than mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare (Davis, 12/10).

The Associated Press: Bipartisan Budget Deal Sets Off Some Grumbling
The measure unveiled by Ryan, R-Wis., and Murray, D-Wash., blends $85 billion in spending cuts and revenue from new and extended fees — but no taxes or cuts to Medicare beneficiaries — to replace a significant amount of the mandated cuts to agency budgets over the coming two years (Taylor, 12/11).

The New York Times: Capitol Leaders Agree To A Deal On The Budget
The deal, while modest in scope, amounts to a cease-fire in the budget wars that have debilitated Washington since 2011 and gives lawmakers breathing room to try to address the real drivers of federal spending — health care and entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security — and to reshape the tax code (Weisman, 12/10). 

The Washington Post: House, Senate Negotiators Reach Budget Deal
Under the terms of the deal, spending for the Pentagon and other federal agencies would be set at $1.012 trillion for fiscal 2014, midway between the $1.058 trillion sought by Democrats and the $967 billion championed by Republicans. ... On top of sequester replacement, the deal calls for an additional $22 billion in deficit reduction by extending a small part of the sequester into 2022 and 2023. That shift would primarily affect Medicare providers, who would face an additional two years of 2 percent across-the-board cuts (Montgomery, 12/10).

The Wall Street Journal: Deal Brings Stability To U.S. Budget
The plan is modest in scope, compared with past budget deals and to once-grand ambitions in Congress to craft a "grand bargain" to restructure the tax code and federal entitlement programs. But in a year and an institution characterized by gridlock and partisanship, lawmakers were relieved they could reach even a minimal agreement (Hook, 12/10). 

In addition, a bipartisan "doc fix" also appears to be gaining momentum.   

The Associated Press: Bipartisan Fix Advancing For Medicare Doctors' Pay
It’s that time of year again: doctors caring for Medicare patients once more face a steep pay cut. But this time Congress is pursuing a permanent fix to the annual drama that has undermined the medical profession’s confidence in the nation’s premier health program. A fundamental change in the budget equation has handed lawmakers a rare opportunity to repeal Medicare’s broken physician payment policy, while also freeing them from having to waive billions of dollars in impending cuts every year. Slowing health care inflation has slashed the cost of repealing the old formula, bringing it down to $116.5 billion over 10 years, according to the latest estimates (Alonso-Zaldivar, 12/10).

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