KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama’s Inaugural Speech, Medicare View Trigger Reaction, Analysis

President Barack Obama's inaugural address laid out very specific choices regarding the future of Medicare and other entitlement programs. Some Republicans, such as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., took a dim view of Obama's take on these issues.

Politico: Paul Ryan Slams Obama 'Straw Man' Speech
The Wisconsin Republican told "The Laura Ingraham Show" that Obama's second inaugural address demonstrated the president does not understand the Republican position on entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security. Ryan responded to Obama's line that these programs "do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great," telling guest host Raymond Arroyo that the president's take on the issue entirely missed the mark (Weinger, 1/22).

The Medicare NewsGroup: With Second Term Underway And Budget Battle Ahead, Obama's Medicare Legacy Is Not Yet Written
When President Obama came to power, he carried with him the promise to extend health care coverage to all, regardless of a person’s income or medical history. He also promised to improve Medicare by cutting costs, increasing quality and stemming fraud and abuse. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a controversial piece of health care reform legislation and the signature legislative victory of Obama's first term, was his solution. It extended the solvency of the Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) trust fund from 2016 to 2024 and created new programs to test new payment and delivery models in an effort to improve care and lower costs. Even with a major health care reform bill under his belt, Obama's legacy on health care, and Medicare in particular, isn't set (Sjoerdsma, 1/21).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Fact/Fiction: Raising The Medicare Eligibility Age Would Save The Program Money
Deficit hawks have long argued that raising the Medicare eligibility age is a good way to reduce entitlement spending. It has routinely been part of Republican, and sometimes bipartisan, proposals to reform the program. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) fiscal year 2013 budget proposal would raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67 years by two months a year starting in 2022, until it reaches 67 in 2033; and the bipartisan Burr-Coburn deficit reduction plan would gradually raise the age to 67 by 2027. The Facts: This is fact. The federal government would spend less on the Medicare program because costs primarily would be shifted to individuals, employers and state government programs. They would, collectively, pay more for health care services than Medicare would pay to cover the same group of people (Sojerdsma, 1/22).

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