KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

In Upcoming Budget Battles, Democrats Appear Unlikely To Cut Medicaid Funding

News outlets report that the health care program for the poor seems secure in upcoming fiscal fights. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says efforts to fix the fiscal problems will have to include new revenues and can't just be cuts in spending.

Los Angeles Times: Medicaid Appears Off-Limits To Talk Of Budget Cuts
Healthcare for the nation's poor, once viewed as especially vulnerable in this era of budget cutting, has emerged as a surprisingly secure government entitlement with as much political clout as the Medicare and Social Security retirement programs. Even as President Obama and congressional Republicans gear up for a new budget battle, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, which together provide coverage to more than 1 in 5 Americans and almost 1 in 3 Californians over the course of a year, appear off-limits despite their huge price tag (Levey, 2/2).

Politico: Reid: Any Budget Deal Must Include Revenue
Any budget deal in Congress must "without any question" include revenue, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Sunday. "The American people are on our side,” the Nevada Democrat said on ABC's "This Week." "The American people don't believe in these austere things. We believe that the rich should contribute. We believe we should fill those tax loopholes, get rid of them, I should say. And that's where we need to go." To lift the sequester, Reid said, the deal needs to include new revenue (Weinger,

Meanwhile, on the Medicare front --

The Medicare NewsGroup: Budget Targets Drive Current Medicare Reform Agenda
When the experts in Washington, D.C., talk about Medicare reform these days, they are really talking about certain numbers, not about doctors, hospitals or patients. The Medicare reform discussions and the divergent plans, whether they come from a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican, share one thing in common: They all have the goal of making Medicare spending grow more slowly than the U.S. economy. This became clear Thursday, January 31, as a panel of experts discussed competing Medicare reform proposals at the annual conference of the National Academy of Social Insurance, a nonpartisan think tank dealing with Medicare and Social Security issues (Rosenblatt, 2/3).

And the New York Times examines how the recent economic downturn is hurting baby boomers.

The New York Times: In Hard Economy For All Ages, Older Isn't Better ... It's Brutal
In the current listless economy, every generation has a claim to having been most injured. But the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath. These Americans in their 50s and early 60s — those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security — have lost the most earnings power of any age group. ... New research suggests that they may die sooner, because their health, income security and mental well-being were battered by recession at a crucial time in their lives (Rampell, 2/2).

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