KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Pressure Mounts As Clock Ticks Toward Debt Panel’s Deadline

The LA Times reports on how a deficit-reduction deal has so far eluded Congress while Politico outlines the politics that are at work in the process.

Los Angeles Times: Deficit Reduction Panel Reaches Crucial Juncture
The super committee has until Thanksgiving to reach an accord. A deal to reduce the deficit has eluded Congress this year because of a simple stalemate: Republicans refuse new taxes and Democrats will agree to cut federal programs only if new revenues are in the mix. If the committee fails, a series of automatic spending cuts is set to kick in to reduce military and domestic spending. Lawmakers from both parties also fear that a failure could cause turmoil in financial markets (Mascaro, 10/29).

Politico: Deficit Reduction Still A Devil Deal
Washington shows every sign of heading backward, running away from once promising talks between Boehner and President Barack Obama last summer rather than trying to build upon them. … Thus, Democrats on the deficit super committee proposed a $3 trillion package last week that would tackle Medicare and Social Security but would demand so much in taxes — $1.3 trillion — that it was quickly dismissed by Republicans. At the same time, the speaker was remarkably coy at his weekly press conference Thursday, saying nothing about the GOP's own counteroffer that moves far to the right of where he stood last summer. The smaller, $2.2 trillion Republican package would demand nearly twice the health savings accepted by the White House and would reduce the tax revenue target to a fraction of what Boehner and Obama had discussed (Rogers, 10/30).

The Hill: Week ahead: Medicare Faces Chopping Block In Super Committee Proposals
Health stakeholders are still pressing their cases as the super committee nears its Thanksgiving deadline. The 12-member panel is tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction — though it appears to be aiming for a much bigger agreement, and health programs will likely be a big part of whatever it ultimately proposes. Super committee Democrats put $400 billion of health care cuts on the table last week, and House Republicans countered with $600 billion in entitlement savings (Baker, 10/31).

The Hill: Bipartisan Duo Lead Opposition To Super Committee Tax On Health Benefits
A Republican and a House Democrat who led the opposition to the health care reform law's tax on high-cost health plans are spearheading a bipartisan letter urging the deficit-cutting super committee to leave employer-sponsored plans alone. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) has partnered with Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) in a sign-on letter opposing proposals to cap and phase out the tax exemption on the health plans that some 160 million Americans get through their employers (Pecquet, 10/28).

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