KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Gingrich Criticizes Obama And GOP Health Plans; Medicare Politics Sway N.Y. Race

News outlets today focused on newly-declared Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's vision on health reform and on the continuing political fallout of Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal.

Politico: Gingrich Says No To Medicare Vouchers
Newt Gingrich on Sunday rejected a GOP proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program that helps senior citizens purchase private health insurance. "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," Gingrich told "Meet The Press." ... Instead, he pushed for creating a system that allows people to pick other options than government-run coverage ... (Marr, 5/15).

CNN: Gingrich Says Voters Should Judge His Ability To Lead Now  
At the same time, Gingrich appeared to back another Republican proposal that would change the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled to a block grant program, with the federal government providing money to states. Overall, Gingrich tread a cautious path on the health care issue, opposing the reform plan pushed through Congress by President Barack Obama and Democrats but agreeing with the core concept that "all of us have a responsibility to help pay for their health care" (Cohen, 5/15).

 MSNBC has video of Gingrich's remarks, including previous statements he made on an individual mandate and subsidies.

National Journal: Ryan Firm On Metric For Cuts, Less So On Substance
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., continued to defend his plan to overhaul Medicare on CNN's State of the Union and said that budget negotiations now "should" include reform of the program, but he refused to say whether they had to in order to get his support (Kaper, 5/15).

CBS News: Boehner Says Obama "Not Serious" About Deficit
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on "Face the Nation" that tax cuts are the one thing that should not be on the table in the discussion about deficit reduction. "The top one percent of wage earners in the United States pay 40 percent of the income tax," he told [Harry] Smith. ... "Medicare, Medicaid - everything should be on the table, except raising taxes," he added (Madison, 5/15).

The Hill: Boehner Questions Obama's Commitment To Tackling Debt, Deficit
[Boehner] stood by the Medicare reforms proposed in Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget, saying that current retirees would not be affected, but future changes need to be made for the sake of the program. "The retirees are going to be taken care of, there's no ifs, ands or buts about that," he said. "But we all know that if nothing is changed, seniors' benefits are going to get cut…that's why we have to deal with this" (Schroeder, 5/15).

The Associated Press:  GOP budget, Medicare Plan Influence NY House Race 
[L]ess than two weeks before the May 24 vote, polls show a competitive contest between Republican Jane Corwin, 47, and Democrat Kathy Hochul, 52, in what's become the first electoral test of GOP budget policies. ... Until recently, Democrats had all but written off the state's 26th congressional district spanning the suburban and rural communities between Rochester and Buffalo. ...Corwin, a wealthy state assemblywoman who has lent her campaign nearly $2 million, has seen her lead in polls evaporate after endorsing the budget plan crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would cut billions from Medicare, the government health care plan for the elderly (Fouhy, 5/14).

National Journal: Western NY Voters Worried About Medicare 
The May 24 special election here to replace former Rep. Chris Lee is a complicated three-way affair, with polls showing a tight race between Democrat Kathy Hochul and Republican Jane Corwin. Republicans point to the presence of a third candidate in the race -- Jack Davis, a two-time Democratic nominee for the seat who is now running as a self-proclaimed tea party candidate -- as the reason the race is artificially close. ... [Corwin has] been getting support from the Medicare plan's architect: Ryan sent out a fundraising appeal from his Prosperity PAC on Friday asking for last-minute fundraising help on the New York Republican's behalf (Taylor, 5/14).

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