KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama’s Debt Commission To Consider Medicare Cuts, New Health Care Law

President Obama's bipartisan debt commission met Tuesday to discuss ways to reduce the federal deficit. The President said that everything was up for discussion, including provisions of the federal health care law, and entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

The New York Times: The President's announcement that "everything is on the table" is being met by several strong opinions. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., "admonished 'bleeding heart liberals' to be open to program reductions to restore fiscal balance. An hour after the commission's meeting, however, several liberal activists held a conference call with reporters to press for additional spending to create jobs, lower military spending, higher taxes for the wealthy and no cuts in Medicare or Social Security." The commission's final recommendation will come on Dec. 1, and until then "[t]hree smaller groups will meet each Wednesday on specific areas - taxes, spending on entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, and all other spending" (Calmes, 4/27).

The Washington Post: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said all federal programs will need to be considered. "The reality is that the Congress, the administration and the American people will have to choose among making modifications to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, restraining federal spending on everything else, accepting higher taxes, or some combination thereof" (Montgomery, 4/28).

The Seattle Times/McClatchy: Obama's admission that every political option must be considered led Republican commission members to ask "whether the president's charge ... meant they could revisit the recently enacted health-care law, spurring Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to react. 'This really shouldn't be a forum for revisiting the greatest hits of the latest health-care-reform debate,' Durbin said. 'Parts of the decisions made there have to be reconsidered here, I'm sure, but I think we need to get beyond that'" (Thomma, 4/27).

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