KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Boehner, Obama Signal Willingness To Work Together On Fiscal Crisis

The House speaker says he would accept a deal that raises federal revenues, but not the top tax rates, if it also includes an overhaul of entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The New York Times: Back To Work, Obama Is Greeted By Looming Fiscal Crisis
Newly re-elected, President Obama moved quickly on Wednesday to open negotiations with Congressional Republican leaders over the main unfinished business of his term -- a major deficit-reduction deal to avert a looming fiscal crisis -- as he began preparing for a second term that will include significant cabinet changes. ... Speaking for Republicans after a conference call with his Congressional colleagues, (Speaker John) Boehner said he was ready to accept a budget deal that raised federal revenues, but not the top rates on high incomes. And the deal, he said, also would have to overhaul both the tax code and programs like Medicare and Medicaid, whose growth as the population ages is driving projections of unsustainable future debt (Calmes and Baker, 11/7).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Maps Out His Second Term 
People close to Mr. Obama said he was looking to send a message to congressional Republicans and to members of his own party, some of whom may see his re-election as a mandate for commitment to their own approach, that he is willing to reach compromises on major initiatives. ... But even beyond Mr. Obama's challenge in negotiating with Republicans, it's not clear how enthusiastically congressional Democrats will back his agenda, especially if it involves compromising with Republicans on longstanding positions on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security (Lee and Nicholas, 11/7).

Los Angeles Times: House Speaker John Boehner Softens Tone On 'Fiscal Cliff'
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) made an opening offer Wednesday to avert an impending fiscal showdown, softening his party's confrontational tone one day after its electoral losses. But he stood by the GOP's core no-new-taxes pledge that has prevented a deal with the White House. The Republican shunned the bombastic approach favored by the GOP's tea party wing and sought to portray his House majority as ready to work with President Obama when Congress returns for what is expected to be an intense lame-duck session. ... Boehner suggested a stopgap measure that would buy time for negotiations to continue in 2013 on a broader deal to reform the tax code and entitlement spending, the so-called grand bargain that has eluded leaders (Mascaro, 11/7).

The Washington Post: After Obama's Re-election, Overtures From Republicans On Debt Negotiations
Less than 24 hours after the election, President Obama and congressional leaders moved with alacrity Wednesday to show flexibility in solving the nation's biggest economic problems and recast Washington's often divisive politics. With a sluggish economy facing major threats, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) opened the door to increased tax revenue as part of a bipartisan deal to tame the soaring national debt. Republicans are "willing to accept new revenues," Boehner said, suggesting he is willing to break with the orthodoxy of many influential Republicans out of a desire to "do what's best for our country." ... But a huge gap still remains, with the White House on Wednesday claiming an electoral mandate to pursue its tax policies and Republicans remaining opposed to any proposals for raising tax rates on the wealthy. Beyond tax policy, there are also divisions over what types of changes, if any, to make to federal entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security (Goldfarb and Montgomery, 11/7).

Kaiser Health News: Electoral Politics End; Legislative Season Begins (Video)
Jackie Judd talks to KHN's Mary Agnes Carey and Richard E. Cohen about what the new political landscape means for the health law and for federal budget negotiations.

The Wall Street Journal: Alan Simpson: Leaders Know What to Do, Now Do It
Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.), who co-chaired the White House’s 2010 deficit-reduction panel, said Democrats and Republicans should pivot quickly from Tuesday's election and start forging a deficit-reduction deal to avoid sharp spending cuts and tax increases in 2013. "Move on, pull up your socks," the eternally loquacious Mr. Simpson said. "They've got nowhere to go between now and Dec. 31." Mr. Simpson said in an interview that he didn't care what deficit-reduction package lawmakers agreed to, as long as it was bipartisan and substantive (Paletta, 11/7).

Several news outlets examine how industry is reacting --

The Wall Street Journal: CEOs Vow To Work With Obama Team
Business leaders pledged cooperation with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, hoping to reset their relationship after a campaign season marked by White House criticism of corporations and the wealthy. As an overture to the re-elected president, some business leaders said their Republican allies in Congress will have to temper their expectations on some major issues that have divided the two parties. ... Even before the election, more than 80 chief executives had publicly called for a comprehensive deficit-reduction agreement that includes higher taxes and an overhaul of entitlements such as Medicare. Mr. Obama also proposes raising taxes as part of a deal, but many Republicans oppose the idea (McKinnon, Nelson and Mattioli, 11/8).

Modern Healthcare: Deficit Talks May Mean Big Cuts For Hospitals: Frist
Looming deficit-reduction negotiations coming soon after Tuesday's federal elections could result in larger-than-expected cuts to hospitals, some health leaders warned. Dr. Bill Frist, former Republican Senate Majority Leader, told attendees at a Washington health policy symposium that he expects a so-called grand bargain on deficit reduction within a few months with 2.5-to-1 ratio of spending cuts-to-tax increases. And hospital payments are the likely source of much of the coming federal spending cuts, due to the large share of Medicare and Medicaid spending they receive. "I don't think hospitals understand how deep these cuts are going to be in the grand bargain," Frist said at the World Healthcare Innovation and Technology Congress (Daly, 11/7).

Politico Pro: Medicare Wars; Fiscal Cliff Edition
A reckoning with the fiscal cliff is fast approaching, and while the rhetorical battle over the future of the seniors' health program may be fading from the airwaves, the real fight is just getting under way. Election jockeying over who would best "preserve and protect" the program aside, Obama already has put major concessions on the table -- concessions bound to incite liberal partisans who helped reelect him, not to mention the seniors and providers who may see cuts to benefits and payments sooner rather than later. Insurers, providers and Medicare advocates are girding to protect their interests as the fiscal cliff negotiations are almost certain to bring these proposals -- and possibly more -- back into play (Norman, 11/7). 

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