KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Deficit Panel Moves Deliberations Behind Closed Doors

The 12-member 'super committee' held a private meeting Thursday and emerged with few details, though a co-chair acknowledged that their work won't be easy. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are signaling the different courses they want to see the panel follow. Also, congressional Democrats are getting increasingly worried about what might become of Medicare and Medicaid.

ABC News: Deficit Super Committee Breakfast Club
For its third meeting, the 12-member, deficit-reduction committee gathered in the U.S. Capitol today for an early, closed-door breakfast over orange juice, coffee, pastries and bacon to talk about how it can achieve a plan for deficit reduction by Thanksgiving. After emerging from the meeting, the co-chairs of the debt committee were scant on details about what nitty-gritty was discussed. Rather, they seemed to use this morning's breakfast as more of a getting-to-know-you meeting, even as all the members have called for quick work with a November deadline and the threat of the trigger options looming (Miller, 6/15).

The Associated Press/MSNBC: Super Committee Meets In Private To Talk Deficit Reduction
Members of Congress' debt reduction super committee said Thursday that their assignment of finding ways to reduce government red ink won't be simple. Emerging from a private breakfast meeting among the panel's members, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, told reporters: "We know that it will not be fun. We know it will not be easy, it will not be popular with any current political constituency" (9/15).

Politico Pro: Dems Worry Over How, Not How Much In Cuts
Democrats say they are resigned to the fact that Medicare and Medicaid won't go completely unscathed as part of Congress's latest effort to cut federal spending. Their question is not how much, but simply how, the programs get squeezed. "I don't think the number is important," Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey said, reacting to reports that President Barack Obama will seek at least $340 billion in savings from the two programs. But where he gets the money and who it affects is very significant. The comments come just days before the president will take another swing at lopping trillions of dollars off the national deficit over the next decade. Details remain scarce, but administration officials this week said his proposal could include $340 billion in health care savings in 10 years (Dobias, 9/15).

CNN Money: Boehner: No Tax Hikes For Super Committee
House Speaker John Boehner drew a line in the sand on taxes on Thursday, saying that a special debt committee tasked with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from federal deficits shouldn't consider tax hikes. "Tax increases, I think, are off the table," Boehner said in a speech to the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. "It's a very simple equation. Tax increases destroy jobs. And the Joint Committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country." The only things the 12-person super committee should tackle are spending cuts and entitlement reform, he said (Liberto, 9/15).

The Washington Post: Boehner Says No New Taxes For Debt Panel
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday reaffirmed GOP opposition to any tax increases to solve the nation's deficit problem, signaling a swift return to the trench warfare that characterized the debt and spending debate of early summer. Boehner said that the special committee seeking long-term debt reduction should achieve its mandated $1.5 trillion in savings entirely by cutting federal agency spending and shrinking entitlement programs (Kane and Helderman, 9/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Boehner Pushes Tax Overhaul
The Boehner speech came as the White House was preparing to present its own deficit-reduction recommendations next week to the super committee. The Wall Street Journal reported the president has decided against including proposals to slow the growth of Social Security spending. But many Democrats remain concerned that the package will revive proposals to pare entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid and that the deficit debate will distract from Mr. Obama's jobs proposal. "The president should continue to talk about jobs," said Rep. George Miller (D., Calif.) (Hook, 9/16).

Politico: Obama To Shield Social Security In Deficit-Reduction
The shift away from Social Security will allow him to avoid a clash with his Democratic base over the popular retirement program at a time when he needs its support more than ever, both to push for his $447 billion jobs program and to buck up his lagging poll numbers. Medicare could be a different story, though, as the White House revisits some unpopular ideas from the talks with Boehner (Budoff Brown, 9/15).

Reuters/MSNBC: Obama To Exclude Social Security From Deficits Plan
President Barack Obama will not include reforms to the Social Security retirement program in his deficits proposals to Congress next week, the White House said Thursday. ... Obama also expressed a willingness in the summer debt talks with House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, to raise the eligibility age for Medicare health benefits to 67 from 65. But The Wall Street Journal said Thursday the White House was now looking at cuts to providers and increased premiums for wealthier recipients of Medicare, the health care program for the elderly (MacInnis, 9/15).

Politico: Obama Jobs Plan: Raise Taxes On Health Care
The White House wants another shot at requiring some Americans to pay more for their employer-backed health coverage, despite a previously tepid response from the very same lawmakers needed to advance the proposal (Dobias, 9/15).

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