Health Programs Among Moving Parts In Debt-Deal Negotiations
President Barack Obama has signaled that he is open to changes in Medicare and Social Security. Meanwhile, hospitals raise the ire of some lawmakers because of ads designed to protect health program spending, and drug makers are put on notice.
Modern Healthcare: Obama Outlines Options On Medicare
Acknowledging that federal lawmakers are "running out of time" on the debt-ceiling negotiations, President Barack Obama in a news conference on Friday said he's still pushing for a big deal and mentioned a few health care entitlement reforms under consideration in a deficit-reduction package (Zigmond, 7/15).
CBS: Growing Signs Social Security, Medicare Changes Will Be Part Of Debt Deal
Washington leaders gave more indication today that changes to Social Security and Medicare are likely to be part of a potential deal to reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling. President Obama on Friday acknowledged for the first time that he was considering changes to the programs like raising the retirement age or applying means testing. Additionally, an administration official tells CBS News political analyst John Dickerson that a deal based on Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's "back up plan" could include a binding commission charged with reviewing the entitlement programs (Condon, 7/15).
ABC: President Obama Publically Supports Means-Testing Medicare; AARP Attacks Proposal
President Obama indicated today that he would be open to means-testing Medicare requiring wealthier seniors to pay more as part of a compromise plan to reduce the deficit. "I've said that means-testing on Medicare, meaning people like myself you can envision a situation where, for somebody in my position, me having to pay a little bit more on premiums or co-pays or things like that would be appropriate," the president said in response to a question from ABC News. "That could make a difference" (Tapper, 7/15).
NPR's Shots blog: Does President Obama Really Want To Means-Test Medicare? Probably Not
President Obama (and many, many others) have been throwing around the phrase "means testing" as they talk about ways to cut spending for Medicare. ... [A] means test is a test to determine whether you get a particular benefit, not how much you pay for it. Medicaid is a means-tested program. So are Food Stamps. If Medicare actually was means-tested, then wealthier people wouldn't get the benefit at all. The context of the President's comments make it fairly clear that he's talking about something else entirely. It's called "income relating." That's when people with higher incomes pay more but get the same benefits as people who earn less (Rovner, 7/15).
Kaiser Health News: FAQ: Seniors May See Changes In Medigap Policies
As debt limit talks drag on, lawmakers are eying possible changes in Medicare supplemental plans moves that could increase seniors' out-of-pocket costs. Traditional Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly and disabled, requires beneficiaries to pay hospital deductibles and a portion of the cost of tests and doctor visits. To protect themselves from those out-of-pocket costs, about 17 percent of beneficiaries buy Medigap plans. Another 34 percent get such coverage through a former employer (Appleby, 7/15).
The Wall Street Journal: Hospital Ads Raise Ire Of Democrats
An angry confrontation behind closed doors this week shows that the acrimonious debt talks in Washington are causing cracks in a normally rock-solid alliance: Democrats and health-care workers. Senior New York Democrats confronted leaders of the Greater New York Hospital Association and the health care workers union, 1199 SEIU, at a meeting Wednesday, according to several people who were there. The lawmakers were upset that the two groups had taken out full-page newspaper ads that day suggesting Democrats might "kill health reform'' in ongoing budget talks (Barrett, 7/16).
Kaiser Health News: Drug Industry Rebates: The Sequel
Note to drug makers: Just in case you thought you'd be spared as part of the debt ceiling talks, think again. At a Friday news conference President Barack Obama made it clear that drug industry rebates to Medicare are very much in the mix as negotiators try to find ways to reduce federal spending on entitlement programs (Carey, 7/15).