KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 15, 2011

Today's headlines include reports about yesterday's passage of the short-term spending compromise as well as debate and detail regarding health care costs, entitlement reform and other long-term budget concerns.

Kaiser Health News Column: The Ryan Plan: An Attempt To Reduce Health Care Spending, But At A High Cost
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Jonathan Cohn writes: "For the better part of two years, the debate over how to control health care costs had a certain one-sided quality to it, because the Democrats had a plan and their critics did not. Democrats were forced to put their ideas on paper, with specifics, and subject them to nonpartisan accounting. All the critics had to do was attack. And attack they did. … All of that changed this month, when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released his budget proposal and included within it radically conservative reforms of the nation's major health care programs" (4/14).

The Associated Press: House Prepares To Vote On $6 Billion Spending Cut Plan
A bold but politically risky plan to cut billions of dollars from the federal budget is coming to a House vote, with insurgent Republicans rallying behind the idea of fundamentally reshaping the government's role in health care for the elderly and the poor (Taylor, 4/15).

The Washington Post: Echoes Of '80s Failure In Obama's Fail-Safe Budget Plan
In the speech, which outlined a plan to reduce deficits by $4 trillion in 12 years, Obama called for cutting domestic and defense spending, raising taxes on the rich and boosting savings in government health insurance programs. The fail-safe would kick in if he and Congress don't act, hiking taxes and cutting the budget but sparing Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and poverty programs. Some experts lauded Obama for suggesting serious steps to try to rein in the debt. …  But they said not all his ideas are achievable in areas including health savings, taxes and cuts to defense and mandatory spending (Goldfarb and Tumulty, 4/14).

The Wall Street Journal: White House Medicare Savings Outlined
President Barack Obama on Wednesday outlined a plan to cut $480 billion by 2023 from the U.S. government's health-care programs for the elderly and poor, drawing a sharp line of disagreement with House Republican leaders over how to rein in the burgeoning costs of medical care (Adamy, 4/14).

NPR: Rep. Ryan Defends GOP Proposals For Medicare, Tax Rate Cuts In NPR Interview
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the 2012 budget plan that would, among other things, privatize Medicare, defended his proposal on All Things Considered Thursday (James, 4/14).

The New York Times: Congress Passes Budget Bill, But Some In GOP Balk
Congress voted Thursday to keep the government financed through September, putting an end to a raucous first skirmish in this year's showdown between Democrats and Republicans over federal spending while presaging bigger ones to come. … Thursday's vote was the precursor to an expected vote on Friday in the House on a budget blueprint for the next fiscal year that will call for a sea change in the structures of the giant Medicare and Medicaid entitlement programs, a measure almost certainly dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate (Steinhauer, 4/14).

Los Angeles Times: Congress Passes $38 Billion In Budget Cuts
Immediately after voting Thursday, House members launched into a debate over their 2012 spending plan, with the cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other domestic programs. Another crucial financial decision also awaits on an increase in the nation's $14.3-trillion debt ceiling. Republican leaders expect to extract deep deficit reductions in exchange for their votes to lift the debt limit. GOP leaders appear to have convinced the rank-and-file that these next battles present an even better opportunity to take on rising deficits (Mascaro and Hennessey, 4/14).

The Washington Post: Budget Deal: CBO Analysis Shows Initial Spending Cuts Less Than Expected
The findings from the budget office warned that the deal may never come close to delivering on its promises. The analysts found that $13 billion to $18?billion of the cuts involve money that existed only on paper and was unlikely to be tapped in the next decade (Fahrenthold, 4/14).

Los Angeles Times: Senate Rejects Attempts To Defund Planned Parenthood, Health Reform
The Senate has rejected a bill that would have blocked funding for implementation of President Obama's new healthcare law. … The Senate agreed to hold the vote as part of the compromise spending deal negotiated last week. Although it had little chance of passing, Republicans insisted on the vote in order to put Democrats on record as defending the law – which has limited public support. The vote will likely be used as a political weapon in the 2012 campaigns. No Democrats voted for the measure. Also as part of the budget agreement the Senate took up a bill blocking federal money from flowing to Planned Parenthood. That measure also failed, though this time five Republicans also voted with Democrats in opposition (Hennessey, 4/14).

The Associated Press: Fact Check: Barbour Medicaid Claim Off Base
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, played fast and loose with his state's Medicaid enrollment numbers this week as he spoke in Washington and chatted up voters in the early primary state of New Hampshire (Pettus, 4/14).

Politico: Oklahoma Governor Returns $54M Health Care Grant
Oklahoma "will not accept the $54 million Early Innovator Grant" Fallin announced Thursday afternoon, noting that the move "accomplishes my goal from the very beginning: stopping the implementation of the president's federal health care exchange in Oklahoma" (Kliff, 4/14).

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: At Nursing Homes, Fears Of Budget 'Armageddon'
The Texas Legislature is faced with a budget challenge that has pitted the Republican majority's desire to cut government spending against a vulnerable target: nursing homes (Tan, 4/14).

Check out all of Kaiser Health News' e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.