KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicare Plan Will Be Central To Ryan GOP Budget

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is set to unveil a new budget plan on Tuesday. Both Democrats and Republicans are poised to revive the pitched debate over controversial proposals related to the Medicare programs.

The Washington Post: House GOP's Ryan To Unveil New Budget
Congress is preparing to renew its bitter fight over government spending, as both parties eagerly await the arrival Tuesday of a new budget plan authored by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.). A year ago, embracing Ryan's budget with its deep spending cuts and a proposal to privatize Medicare, became a badge of loyalty for conservatives. Democrats, meanwhile, used the plan as a political cudgel, accusing the GOP of working to end the retiree health program (Helderman, 3/18).

Reuters: Ryan Budget Plan Aims To Seize U.S. Spending Debate
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives will try this week to seize control of the election-year spending debate by rolling out a plan to slash trillion-dollar deficits and revive controversial reforms to the Medicare healthcare program for the elderly. The effort from influential House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan aims to portray Republicans as unafraid to face the tough decisions needed to avoid what they warn is a looming U.S. debt crisis (Lawder, 3/18).

Reuters: Republicans' Revised US Medicare Plan Seen As Tough Sell
In a new Internet video previewing his upcoming budget plan that aims to slash spending and overhaul the Medicare healthcare program for the elderly, Republican lawmaker Paul Ryan warns of a coming debt crisis if U.S. lawmakers fail to act. It is part of the latest effort by Ryan, the influential chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, to project bold ideas for reining in huge budget deficits. But Republican strategists warn that Ryan's plan to partially privatize Medicare is fraught with political danger for the party in its bid to maintain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 election (Smith and Lawder, 3/16).

Politico: GOP On Budget: Bitten, But Not Shy
For the second year running, Republicans are betting big on the budget. Despite getting hammered by Democrats last year, the GOP is gambling that going big and bold on their fiscal blueprint — think major changes to Medicare and Medicaid — will convince voters the GOP is the nation’s responsible party, comprised of lawmakers attuned to the nation’s fiscal woes. But it’s a gambit fraught with political peril, especially in an election year. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget last year gave Democrats an opening to paint Republicans as willing to end Medicare as voters know it and batter Medicaid — while cutting taxes for the wealthy (Sherman, 3/18).

The Associated Press: GOP Preps For Budget Battle With Democrats, Obama
After a few months of relative peace on the budget front, Democrats and Republicans are readying for a party-defining, election-year fight over trillion dollar-plus deficits and what to do about them. The focus in the week ahead will be on the conservative-dominated House, where the Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is fashioning a sequel to last year's "Path to Prosperity" manifesto that ignited a firestorm over Medicare (Taylor, 3/17).

In the background -

Kaiser Health News: AARP Arming For Medicare Battle
Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini reports: "Against a backdrop of proposals to overhaul the popular social insurance program and a presidential campaign likely to address entitlement spending, AARP is launching 'probably the biggest outreach effort we've ever done on any issue' to activate its 37 million members, said Nancy LeaMond, AARP's executive vice president" (Werber Serafini, 3/19).

USA Today: Seniors See Savings On Rx Drugs Under 2010 Health Law
Almost 4 million seniors saved about $2.16 billion through discounts for their prescription medications in 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today (Kennedy, 3/19).

And a look at last year's budget negotiations -

The Washington Post: Obama's Evolution: Behind The Failed 'Grand Bargain' On The Debt
The actions of Obama and his staff during that period in the summer reflect the grand ambitions and the shortcomings of the president's first term (Wallsten, Montgomery and Wilson, 3/17).

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