KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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House Budget Plan Calls For Deep Cuts To Medicaid, Overhaul Of Medicare

But Republicans are not actually planning to impose any of those cuts which are limited to nonbinding promises. Meanwhile, angry Republican donors are sitting on their wallets until lawmakers actually accomplish something.

The Associated Press: House GOP Eyes Budget Passage That Is Key To Tax Debate
Republicans are focused on cutting taxes instead of deficits as they look to power a $4.1 billion budget plan through the House on Thursday. The 2018 House GOP budget promises deep cuts to social programs and Cabinet agency budgets but its chief purpose is to set the stage for action later this year on a comprehensive Republican overhaul of the U.S. tax code. The tax overhaul is the party’s top political priority as well as a longtime policy dream of key leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan. The plan calls for more than $5 trillion in spending cuts over the coming decade, including a plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for future retirees, slash Medicaid by about $1 trillion over the coming decade, and repeal the “Obamacare” health law. (Taylor, 10/5)

The Hill: Senate Dems Allege Budget Cuts Over $470B From Medicare 
Senate Democrats say Republicans plan to slash Medicare spending by more than $470 billion in the proposed budget resolution, breaking a campaign promise by President Trump not cut Medicare. According to a new report prepared for Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee, the budget would cut Medicaid by more than $1 trillion and Medicare by more than $470 billion. (Weixel and Ellis, 10/4)

The Hill: AARP Urges House To Reject Medicare Budget Cuts
The AARP is calling on the House to reject potential cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps in the current budget resolution. In a letter sent to lawmakers Wednesday, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said the proposals in the budget that could result in cuts to Medicare, or change it to a defined contribution model, should be rejected. (Weixel, 10/4)

Politico: Angry GOP Donors Close Their Wallets
Republicans are confronting a growing revolt from their top donors, who are cutting off the party in protest over its inability to get anything done. Tensions reached a boiling point at a recent dinner at the home of Los Angeles billionaire Robert Day. In full view of around two dozen guests, Thomas Wachtell, a retired oil and gas investor and party contributor, delivered an urgent message to the night’s headliner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Just do something. (Isenstadt and Debenedetti, 10/5)

In other news from Capitol Hill —

The Hill: House Democrats Plead For Right Of Residents To Sue Nursing Homes
In the wake of nursing home deaths cause by Hurricane Irma, House Democrats are asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to let nursing home residents take facilities to court over allegations such as abuse. Over the summer, CMS announced it intended to change the rule under President Obama that banned nursing homes accepting Medicare or Medicaid funds from requiring a third party to settle disputes. (Roubein, 10/4)

Stat: IBM Lobbying Blitz Seeks To Shield Watson Supercomputer From Regulation
Like any new technology, Watson poses unknown risks; for example, what if its advice is wrong and harms a patient? But IBM argues that its machine doesn’t need to be regulated because it’s different from other medical devices. It’s not like a pacemaker or a CT scanner, so the company shouldn’t have to prove to the government that it’s safe and effective. Now, as federal regulators prepare to weigh in on that issue, a STAT examination shows the lengths to which IBM has gone to shield its prized machine from government scrutiny. (Ross and Swetlitz, 10/4)

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