KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House Panel OKs Ryan 2012 Budget Blueprint On Party-Line Vote

The GOP budget proposal's Medicare provisions continue to draw scrutiny and debate about what the program's future should look like, how the plan would change senior citizens' health care costs and what its political implications might be.

The Associated Press: Parties Split As House Panel OKs 2012 GOP Budget
The party-line 22-16 vote underscored the sharp partisan divide over the blueprint, crafted by the committee's chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., at a time of record federal red ink. The measure lays the groundwork for a decade of cuts in spending, taxes and deficits, tempered by a shift in medical costs from the government to future retirees and a reshaping of the two chief federal health programs for the elderly and poor, Medicare and Medicaid (Alonso-Zaldivar and Fram, 4/6).

NPR: Budget Office: GOP Medicare Plan Could Lead To Rationing
Remember all those allegations from Republicans that the Affordable Care Act would inevitably lead to health care rationing? It turns out the same might be true of the House GOP budget plan for Medicare. At least that's the conclusion of the Congressional Budget Office (Rovner, 4/6).

CNNMoney: The Ugly Math Of Medicare
Ryan's proposals for overhauling the program are dramatic. Democrats claim they will dismantle it. Ryan claims they will save it. Love or hate his ideas, though, they are sparking a necessary debate. The ugly math suggests Medicare is unsustainable in its current form. Medicare is financed through a combination of payroll taxes, premiums and general revenue. The problem is that spending has been growing faster than the economy and is projected to do so indefinitely. The reasons for that are simple: The number of people expected to enroll in the program will surge as the population ages and health care costs continue to grow far faster than inflation (Sahadi, 4/7). 

PoliticoPro: Cato: Seniors Will Ration Themselves
A leading conservative critic of the Democrats' health reform law says seniors would ration their own care under Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal - and that's a good thing. The Cato Institute's Michael Tanner says rationing is inevitable with Medicare because of financial limitations. "The question's going to be, is that decision going to be made by government and imposed top down under the current system? Ryan wants to shift that responsibility to individuals and from the bottom up," Tanner said. "Ryan believes that you ultimately reduce costs by putting more skin in the game among seniors" (Feder, 4/7).

CQ HealthBeat: Private Plans Under Ryan Budget Plan Would Cost More Than Current Medicare
When House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan unveiled his budget proposal, he said it fulfills a "moral imperative" to lower Medicare-related costs. But it would actually drive up overall health expenses by requiring people to get care through private plans, which cost more than the current system, said the Congressional Budget Office. Seniors would essentially pick up the extra costs. The House Budget Committee was expected to approve late Wednesday evening the fiscal 2012 budget resolution that Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, introduced the day before. As the committee debated the plan, policy experts and Democratic critics took a closer look at its impact on seniors and people with disabilities (Adams, 4/6).

The Associated Press: 2012 Hopefuls Tread Carefully On Ryan Budget
Mindful of the political risks, most Republican presidential hopefuls treaded gingerly after House Republicans unveiled a budget plan that would slash federal spending by about $5 trillion over 10 years while revamping health programs for the elderly and poor. Several, including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, praised the budget's sponsor, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, but stopped short of fully endorsing the blueprint and didn't indicate whether they backed the massive changes in Medicare and Medicaid (4/6).

CBS: Is Paul Ryan Right? 72 Percent Of Americans Want Health Care Overhaul
Like Ryan, Americans are deeply worried about debt and the rising costs of health care, but according to a new study by the Commonwealth Fund, it's their own pocketbooks that have them panicked. According to the report, seven in ten Americans are worried about access to health care and an equal number believe the system should be fundamentally changed or entirely rebuilt. Almost half of those polled already had difficulties with the high cost of their care - either from an inability to pay medical bills or having their health insurance deny payment or provide far less than they expected (Katz, 4/6). 

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