KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Ryan: Major Changes For Medicare, Medicaid In GOP’s 2012 Budget

Even as Congress faces a showdown this week on 2011 federal spending, both parties are gearing for the 2012 budget battle.  

The Associated Press: GOP 2012 Budget To Make $4 Trillion-Plus In Cuts
The head of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan, says President Barack Obama is "punting on the budget and not doing a thing to prevent a debt crisis." Ryan tells "Fox News Sunday" that GOP budget-writers are looking at cutting $4 trillion-plus in spending over the next decade (Daniel, 4/3).

CNN: House GOP Budget To Call For Big Changes To Medicare, Medicaid
The plan, to be released Tuesday, calls for a controversial overhaul of Medicare, the health care program for seniors, and imposes deep cuts in Medicaid, which provides health benefits to low-income Americans, according to House Republican sources with knowledge of the proposal. ... The GOP aims to save billions of dollars in revamping Medicare, a large contributor to the massive federal deficit and debt (Bash and Walsh, 4/3).

Fox News: GOP Budget Plan to Cut More Than $4 Trillion Over Decade, Rep. Ryan Says
[The proposal] would serve as the Republicans' official response to President Obama's proposed $3.7 trillion budget for 2012. ... Ryan said Sunday that the GOP proposal would reform the tax code but focus on spending cuts and entitlement reform to achieve savings. Though the plan is expected to mostly leave Social Security reform for another day, Ryan proposed big changes to Medicare and Medicaid. For Medicaid, he called for a system of block grants to the states, so the states can "customize" coverage for the poor (4/3).

National Journal: Sunday Talk-Show Live Blog
Responding to criticisms that he is cutting and not reforming health care entitlements, Ryan says "Yes, we do increase and grow Medicare and Medicaid spending, albeit not the at the pace they're growing at [now], because they're unsustainable." (Fernholz and Madigan, 4/3).

Politico: Ryan On GOP Budget: We Are Giving Dems A Weapon 
Ryan elaborated on the Republican-proposed reform to Medicare reform, distinguishing it from his Roadmap voucher program as "more along the lines of what I proposed with Alice Rivlin, the Democrat in the Obama administration, which is a premium support system. It's very different from a voucher system…it works like the Medicare prescription drug benefit similar to Medicare advantage that we have today, which means Medicare puts a list of plans out there that competes for your business and seniors pick the plan of their choosing, and then Medicare subsidizes the cost of that plan," while not changing the entitlement program for those 55 or older (Cogan, 4/3).   

Kaiser Health News: GOP Proposals On Medicare Could Shift Costs To Beneficiaries 
With a presidential election coming up next year, some observers say it's unlikely anything big will happen involving entitlements before 2013, at the earliest, but that won't stop the debate. Here is a guide to some of the ideas being discussed, especially in Republican circles, on changing Medicare (Carey, updated 4/3).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP to Propose Cutting Spending by Over $4 Trillion in 10 Years  
Under his plan, Mr. Ryan said, Medicare would offer a "list of plans out there that compete against each other for your business, and seniors pick the plan of their choosing. And then Medicare subsidizes that plan" (Barkley, 4/3). 

Reuters: Factbox: Republican Ryan's earlier budget plan has clues
A bold proposal by Ryan last year, dubbed a "roadmap for reform," advocated keeping federal taxes at no more than 19 percent of gross domestic product ... Ryan's [earlier] plan would de-link healthcare from employment, where most U.S. citizens now get their health insurance, by repealing the tax exclusion for group health insurance. It would give individuals and families a refundable tax credit to buy insurance (Dixon, 4/3).

The New York Times: Budget Battle To Be Followed By An Even Bigger Fight
The plan ...  will be the most ambitious Republican effort since the November elections to put a conservative stamp on economic and domestic policy. It involves far greater stakes for Congress and for President Obama - substantively and politically - than the current fight over spending cuts. ... House Democrats, who are preparing an alternative budget, say the Republican approach would cut off aid to some of the neediest Americans ... Some Republicans had wanted to delay putting forward Mr. Ryan's plan until this year's negotiations were completed. They were worried that introducing another set of proposals might confuse the debate and give Democrats two targets to exploit in their effort to persuade voters that Republicans were going too far in slashing programs (Hulse, 4/2).


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