KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

‘Super Committee:’ What’s To Become Of Medicare, Medicaid?

Although President Barack Obama continues to make clear that, in his view, reforming these entitlement programs is necessary to find budget savings, one policy expert says such cuts might have very little impact on deficit spending. Meanwhile, news outlets report on how lobbyists are taking position in an effort to best advance their clients interests to the deficit panel.

Fox News: Obama Talks Up Entitlement Changes As Dems Resist
President Obama has again acknowledged the necessity of doing something many Democrats fiercely oppose - reforming entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Social Security. On a Midwest bus tour stop in Minnesota, Obama spoke in favor of changes to entitlement programs being eyed by the 12-member congressional committee charged with finding budget savings that will get past partisan gridlock, stave off future credit downgrades and increase the federal debt limit by $1.5 trillion. The president has repeatedly conceded that something must be done, saying Medicare in particular cannot survive without reform. "We will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up," he said in late July. "I mean, it's not an option for us to just sit by and do nothing" (Angle, 8/15).

CQ HealthBeat: Reischauer: Super Panel's Medicare, Medicaid Cuts Won't Dent Deficit Much
Any package of Medicare and Medicaid cuts developed by the new congressional joint committee on deficit reduction may do little to actually reduce deficit spending, Urban Institute President Robert Reischauer said. The total Medicare/Medicaid package recommended by the panel might garner about the amount of savings needed to prevent cuts to doctors under the "Sustainable Growth Rate" (SGR) reimbursement formula - but not enough to begin reigning in spending on the Medicare entitlement program, he said (Reichard, 8/15).

Politico: Lobbyists Get An Early Jump On The Debt Committee
Now that the members of the super committee have been named, lobbyists have begun strategizing in earnest. And they've got their sights set beyond just the elite 12. Several lobbyists said they are focused on the committees of jurisdiction that have until Oct. 4 to send their recommendations to the debt panel as the first line of defense to keep their clients' interests off the chopping block. … While there is still a high level of pessimism downtown that the super committee won't reach a deal, lobbyists aren't counting on the panel failing (Palmer, 8/15).

The Hill: Club For Growth Leads In Donations To 'Super Committee'
The fiscally conservative Club for Growth may have opposed the compromise that raised the debt ceiling and led to the creation of the super committee of 12 members of Congress, but the organization has donated more to those members than any other. The Club for Growth and its members have given just over $1 million to the campaigns of some of the committee's Republicans, including the group's former head, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), as well as Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) according to a study by, a group which studies money in politics (Joseph, 8/15).

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