KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

New Poll Show Americans Oppose Cuts To Medicare, Medicaid

Though concerns continue to mount regarding the nation's fiscal problems, a new poll finds most Americans would prefer to keep Medicare just as it is. Meanwhile, as the budget debate in Washington heats up, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has started airing ads attacking GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to overhaul Medicare, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered a comparison of the Democratic and Republican plans. Finally, even though President Barack Obama would "double-down" on the Independent Payment Advisory Board - which was created in the health law - as a means to control further health care spending, the panel's opponents are ready to stand against the IPAB.

The Washington Post: Poll Shows Americans Oppose Entitlement Cuts To Deal With Debt Problem
Despite growing concerns about the country' long-term fiscal problems and an intensifying debate in Washington about how to deal with them, Americans strongly oppose some of the major remedies under consideration, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey finds that Americans prefer to keep Medicare just the way it is. Most also oppose cuts in Medicaid and the defense budget (Cohen and Balz, 4/20).

Politico: Poll: Taxing The Rich Favored Over Medicare Cuts
Most Americans oppose the big spending cuts that many in Washington see as necessary to bring down the budget deficit, a new poll suggests, but they do support one idea for deficit reduction that President Barack Obama has pushed for years – raising taxes on the rich. Only small slivers of the group of Americans surveyed for a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday said they support cuts to Medicare and Medicaid – 21 percent and 30 percent, respectively – and cuts to defense spending get the support of 42 percent of those surveyed. Seventy-eight percent of Americans are opposed to Medicare cuts, while 69 percent are opposed to Medicaid cuts (Epstein, 4/20).

The Wall Street Journal Washington Wire: Democrats Use Ryan Budget For Attack Ads
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched radio ads attacking Mr. Ryan's proposal to overhaul Medicare in 25 Republican districts today, and an off-beat Web ad that suggests seniors will have to find alternative sources of income under the proposal (Yadron, 4/19).

CBS: Democrats Turn Guns On GOP Medicare
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a humorous web ad today in which seniors are shown selling lemonade, mowing lawns, and, well, stripping to make up the money they would need to pay for their health care under the Republican plan. Democrats have seized on the GOP plan as reflecting Republicans' desire to give tax breaks to the rich while taking benefits from seniors, who tend to vote in larger numbers then most Americans (Montopoli, 4/19).

CNN: Campaign Battle Over Medicare Heats Up
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Tuesday that it's launching a paid advertising campaign against 25 Republican lawmakers who they consider vulnerable in next year's elections. The DCCC says their new push consists of radio ads, live and automated phone calls, web ads and over 4.5 million "action alert" e-mails. The new push is part of the committee's "Drive for 25" campaign, which focuses on capturing 25 GOP House seats in 2012, which would give the Democrats control of the chamber that they lost in last year's midterm elections (Steinhauser, 4/19).

MinnPost: Dems Hit Cravaack On Medicare, Citing Vote On Ryan Budget
National Democrats will begin running radio ads against Chip Cravaack, blasting him for choosing to "end Medicare" by voting for Paul Ryan's budget Friday, which includes a plan to voucherize the government insurance program as a method of preserving it. ... The ad script: "Did you know Congressman Chip Cravaack voted to end Medicare forcing seniors to pay $12,500 for private health insurance, without guaranteed coverage? Tell Cravaack to keep his hands off our Medicare" (Wallbank, 4/19).

Bloomberg: Congress Mulls Budget Deal Forcing More Taxes, Spending Cuts
Senate and House members, seeking to break an impasse over curbing the nation's debt, are looking at a "club in the closet" mechanism that would force Republicans to agree to tax increases and Democrats to accept cuts to entitlement programs. ... The Savego plan to trigger automatic cuts was written by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. The co-chairwoman of the group's debt-reduction task force is Alice Rivlin, former President Bill Clinton's budget director who served on Obama's fiscal commission last year. The Bipartisan Policy Center plan calls for reducing health care costs, including spending on Medicare and Medicaid. If Congress fails to act, those programs would be subject to automatic cuts (Przybyla, 4/20).

The Associated Press: Health Chief Sebelius Contrasts Medicare Proposals
A top U.S. health official said she cannot rule out future cost increases to Medicare beneficiaries, but predicted a Republican budget-cutting proposal would force beneficiaries to pay much more for health insurance (4/19).

The New York Times: Obama Panel To Curb Medicare Finds Foes In Both Parties
Democrats and Republicans are joining to oppose one of the most important features of President Obama's new deficit reduction plan, a powerful independent board that could make sweeping cuts in the growth of Medicare spending (Pear, 4/19).

Politico Pro: Some IPAB Opponents Will Fight Quietly
You won't hear loud public attacks on the president's proposal to strengthen the Affordable Care Act's Independent Payment Advisory Board, multiple lobbying sources say, even as many groups fight vigorously behind the scenes. By doubling-down on IPAB in his budget proposal, President Barack Obama has reopened an issue that antagonizes many of the health reform law's crucial supporters, including PhRMA, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association. But all these groups have an interest in not going too public (Feder, 4/19). 

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