KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama’s Budget Expected To Call For Medicare Cuts

In advance of the release of President Barack Obama's fiscal blueprint on Wednesday, an adviser warned friends and foes that the plan includes things neither will like. The budget plan is expected to kick off new discussions about trimming entitlements and revamping the nation's safety net.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Ahead Of Budget Release, Top Obama Adviser Warns Both Parties They May Not Be Happy With Plan
The White House is warning friend and foe alike: They're not going to like every part of President Barack Obama’s budget when it is released this week. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer is telling Republicans their "my way or the highway" approach would spell the GOP's defeat in upcoming budget negotiations. He also is telling Obama's Democratic allies that they, too, will have to bend on the spending plan that is due Wednesday (4/8).

USA Today: Obama's Budget Revives Talk Of Entitlement Changes
A brief reprieve on imminent budget deadlines is providing Republicans and Democrats alike an opportunity to regroup for the next fiscal debate that will dominate the spring and come to a head this summer: increasing the nation's ability to borrow money to pay its bills. Negotiations to raise the debt ceiling are increasingly linked to an ongoing debate over how to revamp the nation's social safety net to help reduce the deficit (Davis, 4/7).

Medpage Today: Obama To Propose $400 Billion In Medicare Savings
About $400 billion of savings in President Obama's fiscal 2014 budget proposal will come from Medicare and other health programs, according to media reports. The money would come in the form of reduced payments to pharmaceutical companies and asking wealthier seniors to pay higher premiums, the news reports, citing a leaked budget briefing document, said Friday. Obama is set to unveil the full fiscal 2014 budget proposal to Congress on Wednesday. … One move would place greater price controls on drugs paid through Medicare Part D for beneficiaries eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Currently, those drugs are bought through Medicare, rather than Medicaid, where prices are lower and more restrictive (Pittman, 4/5).

Bloomberg: Obama Drops Stimulus For Benefit Cut To Woo Republicans
Less than a week after job-creation figures fell short of expectations and underscored the U.S. economy's fragility, President Barack Obama will send Congress a budget that doesn't include the stimulus his allies say is needed and instead embraces cuts in an appeal to Republicans…The Medicare insurance program for the elderly would be cut by reducing payments to health-care providers and drug companies and imposing more costs on high-income beneficiaries (Dorning, 4/8).

Meanwhile, in other fiscal news -

The Wall Street Journal: Workers Stuck In Disability Stunt Economic Recovery
The unexpectedly large number of American workers who piled into the Social Security Administration's disability program during the recession and its aftermath threatens to cost the economy tens of billions a year in lost wages and diminished tax revenues (Scism and Hilsenrath, 4/7).

California Healthline: Healthy Families Savings Goes From $13M To $137K
At a legislative hearing yesterday, state officials said the estimates for savings have been reduced for the Healthy Families transition to Medi-Cal managed care. According to the Legislative Analyst's Office, the original estimated general fund savings for the Healthy Families transition was $13.1 million in 2012-13. The estimate has shrunk to $137,000. Savings for next fiscal year -- 2013-14 -- were estimated at $52 million and that estimate has been revised to $43 million. Scott Ogus, who represented the Department of Finance at yesterday's hearing, said there were several factors contributing to the revision. Delays in implementation by the Department of Health Care Services led to caseload changes. DHCS officials have said the department slowed down some of the early phases of the transition so children would have less disruption in continuity of care (Gorn, 4/5).

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