Health Programs At Risk In Gathering Budgetary Storm
Deep spending cuts, scheduled as part of last year's debt accord, are forcing lawmakers from across the political spectrum to consider difficult positions. Medicare and Medicaid will likely be on the table.
The Washington Post: Taxmageddon Sparks Rising Anxiety
The halls of the U.S. Capitol are already teeming with people warning of disaster if lawmakers fail to defuse a New Year's budget bomb scheduled to raise taxes for every American taxpayer and slash spending at the Pentagon and most other federal agencies. Last week, hospital executives came to complain about big scheduled cuts in Medicare payments. Next month, university presidents plan to raise the alarm about big scheduled cuts in federal research grants. And the chief executives of Lockheed Martin and other aerospace giants last Wednesday passed out digital countdown clocks ticking off the seconds until "over 1 million American jobs" will be lost to big scheduled cuts in defense (Montgomery and Helderman, 5/15).
The Washington Post: Boehner Sees Battle Over Debt Limit As 'Action-Forcing Event'
Republicans alarmed by the depth of cuts on tap for the Pentagon are scrambling to replace them, but Democrats say they will only agree to undo the defense cuts in exchange for higher taxes on the wealthy. Boehner's remarks suggest that Republicans believe they have leverage, too, and that they are willing to resist a needed increase in the debt limit unless Democrats agree to far-reaching changes to federal health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid (Montgomery, 5/15).
In other Capitol Hill news --
Politico: Bernie Sanders Floats Plan To Make HIV Drugs Less Costly
Why do American patients pay tens of thousands of dollars each year for HIV drugs that cost just hundreds in Africa? Drugmakers wave their patent rights in developing countries as part of the President's Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief. But the higher cost of brand-name drugs in the United States makes it difficult for many HIV patients to stay on drug regimens that can cost as much as $30,000 a year (Feder, 5/14).