KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Budget Talks: Medicare Costs On Table As Biden Aims For $1 Trillion In Cuts

Politics continue to surround talks regarding the budget and congressional efforts to reach an agreement on raising the debt limit. Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading an effort to strike a compromise, has acknowledged that Medicare must be part of the debate. He also maintains that new revenue sources have to be in the mix.

The New York Times: Vote On Debt Is Planned But Criticized As A Stunt
House Republicans said Tuesday that they would allow a vote next week on an increase in the federal debt ceiling with no strings attached, in order to see it defeated and show Democrats that no increase in federal borrowing authority can be enacted without significant spending cuts (Hulse and Calmes, 5/24).

The Washington Post: Poll: More Americans Fear Higher National Debt Than Default
The debate over whether to raise the legal limit on government borrowing has riveted Americans, with a large majority worried about the potential consequences regardless of whether Congress votes to allow the national debt to keep increasing. …  On Tuesday, Vice President Biden emerged from a fourth round of debt-reduction talks with six lawmakers from both parties and announced that the group is on pace to reach an agreement on more than $1 trillion in spending cuts, part of a package aimed at smoothing passage of a debt-limit increase. … On Tuesday, it dove into the more contentious question of whether to cut Medicare and Medicaid, the biggest drivers of future borrowing - a top GOP priority (Montgomery and Craighill,  5/24).

Bloomberg: Biden Aims for $1 Trillion in Budget Cuts, Opens Medicare Cost For Debate
Vice President Joe Biden set a goal of at least $1 trillion in budget cuts from negotiations with congressional leaders on the federal debt as talks yesterday turned to Medicare, a contentious issue that risks replicating a partisan divide on Capitol Hill. Democrats in the meeting ruled out concessions on Medicare without Republican agreement to raise tax revenue, a step the party's leaders so far have rejected, according to someone familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity. Biden underscored the issue in remarks to reporters afterward. "I made clear today that revenues have to be in the deal," Biden said, even as he expressed optimism about prospects for the talks. Negotiators are on a pace "to get above $1 trillion" in cuts for a "down payment on the process," he said (Przybyla and Dorning, 5/25).

CQ HealthBeat: Camp: Debt Ceiling Deal Must Include 'Real Reforms' of Medicare
House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp has said he won't move Rep. Paul D. Ryan's House-approved plan to overhaul Medicare though his panel - but that doesn't mean he won't pursue changes in the entitlement program this year. Camp said Tuesday that "we must force Washington to live within its means, and any deal on the debt limit should include real reforms including entitlement programs like Medicare." Camp, R-Mich., whose committee has jurisdiction over debt limit legislation, said he would not support a "clean" debt-limit increase lacking significant spending cuts and budgetary revisions (Reichard, 5/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Budget Talks Eye $1 Trillion In Cuts
Neither Mr. Biden nor Mr. Cantor would say how they expected the deal to reach beyond $1 trillion. One person familiar with the talks said that Democrats were resisting new Medicare program cuts unless Republicans agreed to consider tax increases (Hook and Boles, 5/25).

Los Angeles Times: Budget Talks Identify $1 Trillion In Possible Cuts
Vice President Joe Biden said budget talks with congressional leaders had identified at least $1 trillion in possible federal spending reductions - about half the amount Republicans have indicated would be needed for their vote to raise the nation's debt limit. But in a sign of the continuing partisan struggle, Biden also said Tuesday that new revenue must be part of any deal, a concept the GOP has resisted. He added that changes to "big ticket" programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, would be needed too (Mascaro, 5/25).

Meanwhile, scores of debt-reduction ideas were discussed at a day-long fiscal summit in Washington -

The Fiscal Times: Fiscal Summit Aims at Deep Gaps in Deficit Plans
Scores of ideas for reducing the deficit will be put on the table at an all-day fiscal summit on Wednesday. ... [The] centerpiece of the conference will be the unveiling of six plans from across the ideological spectrum ... The plans were developed by (from ideological left to right): the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network; the Economic Policy Institute (EPI); the Center for American Progress; the Bipartisan Policy Center; the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation. ... On the spending side, a stand-pat approach assumes accomplishment of nearly a half trillion dollars in Medicare savings, which were included in the Obama administration's health care reform legislation that skeptics call implausible (Goozner, 4/24). 

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