KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Can Obama, GOP Find Consensus On Medicare, Medicaid Spending?

As criticism continues regarding President Barack Obama's budget plan, he acknowledged in a Tuesday speech that more needs to be done to resolve the nation's long-term budget problems and he signaled an interest in working toward a compromise with Republicans. Some GOP Senators responded by challenging Obama to begin such negotiations "swiftly."

The New York Times: Obama, Conceding Budget's Limitations, Seeks Consensus
President Obama conceded on Tuesday that his new budget does not do enough to resolve the nation's long-term fiscal problems, but he counseled patience, suggesting that he would eventually come together with Republicans on a broad deal. But, Mr. Obama said at a news conference, any such compromise to address Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the tax system is months away and will first require an effort to build bipartisan trust - even as Democrats and Republicans battle intensely over how much to cut from the current year's domestic spending (Calmes, 2/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Defends His Approach On Entitlements
The president called Medicare and Medicaid the biggest drivers of long-term deficit growth. And he said his bipartisan debt commission's plan "still provides a framework for discussion," even though his budget did not pick up most of its recommendations (Weisman and Meckler, 2/15).

McClatchy: Lawmakers' Gripe: Obama's Budget Avoids Big Challenges
President Barack Obama's budget got a frosty and at times hostile reception Tuesday from Republicans as lawmakers complained bitterly that he failed to confront the spiraling cost of Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs. Some Democrats, notably Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., joined the chorus of skeptics, while Obama scrambled to defend his $3.73 trillion fiscal 2012 budget at a news conference (Lightman and Talev, 2/15).

Bloomberg: Obama Stresses Need To Curb Medicare, Medicaid Cost While Skirting Details
President Barack Obama said the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid is creating "huge problems" for the nation's finances that must be dealt with "in a serious way." He's just not taking the first step. In his Feb. 14 budget proposal and at a news conference yesterday, Obama said the entitlement programs were driving the U.S. debt, while offering no details on how to shore them up. That puts the onus on Republicans, who won control of the House on a pledge to curb the deficit, to share the risk of proposing unpopular benefit cuts and tax increases to curb entitlement spending, which makes up 40 percent of the budget. It also gives them a chance to take the lead on revamping the two insurance programs and Social Security, something they have vowed to do, though they've offered no specifics (Pryzbyla, 2/16).

The Fiscal Times: Senate Republicans Urge Entitlement Summit
After nearly two days of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle pummeling President Obama's 2012 budget plan for failing to address long-term debt and entitlement problems, several Senate Republicans on Tuesday stepped forward and challenged the White House to swiftly begin bipartisan negotiations on a strategy for driving down the long term debt. ... In a town where Democrats and Republicans are constantly at each other's throats, an invitation from one party to another to plunge into politically hazardous talks on controlling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid costs invariably is viewed as a trap – and Obama and his budget director were predictably cautious in their responses (Pianin and Hirsch, 2/16).

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