KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Liberal Democrats Pledge To Protect Medicaid

Some Democrats argue that cuts to Medicaid, which provides health insurance coverage to low-income Americans, should not be part of the fiscal negotiations.

NPR: Democrats Draw Line On Medicaid Cuts
At least in public, Republicans have been clear that they see the current budget negotiations as a chance to address what they see as the source of Washington's deficit problem: Major entitlement programs. … But if Republicans have drawn a line in the sand insisting that those major programs be put on the table for negotiation, Democrats are drawing a line of their own. They say Medicaid, which serves the health care needs of some 60 million low-income Americans, needs to be taken off the table (Rovner, 12/12).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Liberal Democrats Say Medicaid Must Not Be Cut As Part Of Bipartisan Bargain On Fiscal Cliff
Liberal Democratic members of Congress are warning President Barack Obama to not cut the Medicaid health care program as part of negotiations with Republicans over avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff (12/11).

Modern Healthcare: Liberal Democrats Rip Proposed Medicaid Cuts
Leading liberals in Congress blasted separate Republican and Democratic proposals to cut Medicaid spending as part of an end-of-the-year deficit deal but remained open to unspecified Medicare cuts. Republican proposals to restructure Medicaid from an open entitlement to a fixed-dollar block grant to states and a Democratic proposal to move it into a per-capita grant drew derision from senior Senate and House Democrats during a Tuesday news conference packed with boisterous healthcare union representatives. "Both of these ideas are bad ideas because they limit the federal government's participation in making sure Medicaid will cover those who are most vulnerable," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). Waxman and other Democrats also criticized a proposal by Republicans to pay for a one-year freeze in Medicare physician pay rates and put off a looming 26.5% cut (Daly, 12/11).

CQ HealthBeat: Democrats Warn Against Medicaid Cuts
Some Democratic senators and congressmen said Tuesday that they would not support a budget-reducing deal that cut Medicaid, even as one leading House Democrat acknowledged that the party will probably have to accept Medicare cuts. "Whatever they're talking about with Medicare, maybe there are some things we can live with," Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif, said at a Capitol Hill event organized by consumer advocacy and union groups such as the Service Employees International Union and Families USA. "But we cannot live with any cuts in Medicaid" (Adams, 12/11).

The Hill: Liberals: Leave Medicaid Out Of Talks
Republicans have insisted on entitlement cuts in exchange for higher revenues in a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts set to take effect at the end of the year. Congressional Democrats oppose almost all cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, but they’re taking an especially hard line against Medicaid cuts, including proposals President Obama has supported in the past. “If you want to boil it down to one message: Keep your hands off the Medicaid program,” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said. “We don’t believe in cutting Medicare, either, but whatever they talk about in Medicare, maybe there’s some things we can live with. But we cannot live with any cut to Medicaid” (Baker, 12/11).

Meanwhile -

Los Angeles Times: 'Obamacare,' Fiscal Cliff Leads To Small Business Optimism Plunge
It’s the fiscal cliff’s fault, according to a new report from the National Federation of Independent Business. The threat of major spending cuts and tax hikes in the new year has caused a forward-looking gauge of Main Street sentiment to plummet. The election and the looming implementation of President Obama's health coverage overhaul is also weighing on small business owners, according to the report (Hsu, 12/11).

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