KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

‘Grand Bargain’ Remains Elusive; Negotiators Focus On Sequester Cuts

Democrats remain committed to raising the necessary revenue to do this by closing tax loopholes for corporations and wealthy people. Republicans continue to call for spending trims to Medicare and other entitlement programs. Meanwhile, new estimates by the Congressional Budget Office find that raising the Medicare eligibility age produces less savings than previously thought.  

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Both Sides Agree: No 'Grand Bargain' Budget Agreement In Upcoming Congressional Negotiations
Long-standing, entrenched differences over taxes make a large-scale budget pact virtually impossible, according to lawmakers, their aides and observers who will be monitoring the talks. Republicans say they simply won’t agree to any further taxes atop the 10-year, $600 billion-plus tax increase on upper-income earners that President Barack Obama and Democrats muscled through Congress in January. Without higher taxes, Democrats say they won’t yield to cuts in benefit programs like Medicare (10/25).

The Washington Post: Lawmakers Now Focusing On Replacing Sequester Spending Cuts
But the two parties remain far apart on the question of how to replace the sequester cuts, which are scheduled to slice about $100 billion a year out of agency budgets through 2021. Democrats are insisting that even a partial replacement of the cuts — which are set to hit the Pentagon particularly hard next year — must include new revenue raised by closing tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy. Republicans want to replace the agency cuts by trimming spending on Medicare and other long-term expenses, such as pensions for federal workers. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and on Thursday, Ryan, have ruled out new taxes, saying they would rather stick with the sequester (Montgomery, 10/24).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: CBO: Raising Medicare Eligibility Age Produces Smaller Savings Than Previously Thought
Raising the eligibility age for enrolling in Medicare won’t produce nearly the cost savings that had been assumed previously, said a new report issued Thursday. The Congressional Budget Office analysis says that phasing in an increase in the eligibility age from 65 to 67 years old would lower the budget deficit by just $19 billion over the coming decade. Savings would rise more in future years, however (10/24).

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