Lawmakers Jockey For Position In Medicare Debate
Political and policy-oriented Medicare skirmishes continue on Capitol Hill as members hear from their constituents on the question of the program's future, and some lawmakers say it's time for "an adult conversation." Also, the Senate is likely to vote this week on the House-passed GOP budget.
Reuters: Republicans Suggest Deal Possible On Health Care
Top congressional Republicans said on Sunday they would be open to a compromise on health care costs, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in a deal to get the United States' debt under control. Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, said he would "absolutely" be willing to negotiate with Democrats, who have hammered his plan to scale back government-run health plans for the poor and the elderly. With Ryan's plan headed for likely defeat in the Democratic-controlled Senate, that chamber's top Republican said it was time for "an adult conversation" on ways to keep health care costs under control (Sullivan, 5/22).
Fox News: Ryan Challenges Democrats To Propose Alternatives To His Budget
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, on Sunday played down a recent flap with presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who two weeks earlier called Ryan's Medicare proposal "right-wing social engineering." Gingrich took his words back a few days later after he was criticized by conservatives. Gingrich also called Ryan to apologize. Ryan said Gingrich's critique was "deeply inaccurate and a gross mischaracterization," but he's not surprised since the plan has been distorted by people who wish to take political advantage by creating confusion about it (5/22).
The Connecticut Mirror: As Boomers Swell Medicare Rolls, Congress Debates Program's Future
Between the bombshell comments by Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich and the headlines from a dry but urgent 273-page financial status report, Medicare has taken center stage in the current political debate. Connecticut's Democratic House members have collectively held more than a half-dozen town hall meetings on the issue in recent days ... At issue is the fate of one of the nation's most popular and costly safety-net programs. Medicare provides health care to seniors, serving more than 47 million people in 2010. It's also eats up a significant slice of federal budget - 15 percent - with expenditures hitting $523 billion last year. The skirmish over Medicare is taking place just as the first Baby Boomers are signing up for the program, putting new pressure on the system (Shesgreen, 5/20).
CQ HealthBeat: Ryan Plan Seemingly Dead, But Premium Support Lives On
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan's Medicare overhaul plan is almost surely dead. But its core concept - having seniors select their Medicare coverage from a menu of competing plans and giving them a set payment to help defray premium costs - surely is not. An overhaul based on what's called premium support would end Medicare as we know it, and that makes it too risky for lawmakers to attempt before the 2012 elections. But the idea is hardly novel. It's how Medicare administers its prescription drug benefit, and it's the way insurance exchanges will help people without coverage pay their premiums under the health overhaul law (Reichard, 5/20).
Politico: Republicans Ignored Warnings On Paul Ryan Plan
The poll numbers on the plan were so toxic - nearly as bad as those of President Barack Obama's health reform bill at the nadir of its unpopularity - that staffers with the National Republican Congressional Committee warned leadership, "You might not want to go there" in a series of tense pre-vote meetings (Thrush and Sherman, 5/23).
CQ HealthBeat: Democrats Target Republicans with State-by-State Analysis of Ryan Budget
Democrats are using the findings from a new state-by-state analysis from the Joint Economic Committee of the House GOP budget plan to tell voters in each state how much more they might eventually pay out-of-pocket for their medical costs if the Republican plan were to take effect. The new report estimated that Florida residents would face the sharpest dollar amount increases in the country, which is in part a reflection of the high medical costs in areas such as Miami. Two states - Florida and New Jersey - would see costs rise by more than $7,000 per person on average in 2022, the year that Medicare would change from an open-ended entitlement to a capped spending allotment under the GOP plan (Adams, 5/20).
Politico Pro: Two Tests For House Budget
Majority Leader Harry Reid will force Republicans to pick a side this week as he plans to call the House budget up for a vote. And on Tuesday, voters in western New York will head to the polls in a House special election that Democrats argue is competitive only because Republicans have made Medicare an issue. Both events will send strong signals about how much mileage Democrats can expect to get out of the Medicare debate in 2012 - and how strongly Republicans can be expected to stick with the House plan (Haberkorn, 5/23).