KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Budget Would Up Medicare Costs For Higher-Income Seniors

The Associated Press examines how President Barack Obama's budget proposal would increase Medicare costs for some seniors while other news outlets report on reactions from the left and right.

The Associated Press: Upper-Income Seniors' Medicare Hike
President Barack Obama's plan to raise Medicare premiums for upper-income seniors would create five new income brackets to squeeze more revenue for the government from the top tiers of retirees, the administration revealed Friday. First details of the plan emerged after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified to Congress on the president's budget .... Currently, single beneficiaries making more than $85,000 a year and couples earning more than $170,000 pay higher premiums. Obama's plan would raise the premiums themselves and also freeze adjustments for inflation until 1 in 4 Medicare recipients were paying the higher charges. Right now, the higher monthly charges hit only about 1 in 20 Medicare recipients (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/12).

The Associated Press: Medicare Hike Could Also Hit Some In Middle Class
Retired as a city worker, Sheila Pugach lives in a modest home on a quiet street in Albuquerque, N.M., and drives an 18-year-old Subaru. Pugach doesn't see herself as upper-income by any stretch, but President Barack Obama's budget would raise her Medicare premiums and those of other comfortably retired seniors, adding to a surcharge that already costs some 2 million beneficiaries hundreds of dollars a year each. ... Obama's budget would change Medicare's upper-income premiums in several ways ... the plan would create five new income brackets to squeeze more revenue from the top tiers of retirees (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/12).

Kaiser Health News: Five Ways The President's Budget Would Change Medicare
President Barack Obama's fiscal 2014 budget includes a variety of what he says are "manageable" changes for Medicare's 54 million beneficiaries as well as for the hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers that serve them. That assessment has drawn concern from some patient and provider groups that, although recognizing the need to address the nation's rising health care costs, say seniors shouldn't bear the brunt of efforts to reduce entitlement spending (Carey, 4/15).

PBS NewsHour: Social Security Advocate: Obama's Budget Is 'Bad Policy. Bad Politics'
Max Richtman stood in the bright sunshine steps from the White House Tuesday, waiting for his turn on the bullhorn to assail a policy of a president he usually agrees with. Leaders of a half dozen liberal and progressive groups -- including Richtman's National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare -- shouted to supporters that President Barack Obama's call in his budget to reduce cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security and other federal benefits amounted to economic assault on senior citizens (Holman, 4/12).

Bloomberg: Obama Programs Derided By Republicans As Pejorative Entitlements
President Barack Obama says Social Security and Medicare fulfill "the guarantee of a secure retirement," providing Americans benefits they have earned through a working lifetime of contributions. Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan looks at a broad array of so-called entitlement programs and sees a corrosive effect (Lynch, 4/15).

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Beacon reports on how the budget plan grants hospitals a reprieve from some Medicaid reductions -

St. Louis Beacon: Hospitals Get Reprieve From Cuts In Some Medicaid Reimbursements
Missouri hospitals are expected to avoid about $27 million in cuts in federal reimbursements. The Obama administration's next budget eliminates about $500 million nationally in what's known as disproportionate share payments, or DSH, to hospitals under Medicaid (Joiner, 4/12).

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