Confusion Surrounds Medicare Proposals, Budget Plan Debate
News outlets report on the fits and starts of the ongoing budget deficit talks, including how plans for Medicare's future are faring and how politics are heating up - both in Washington and in a special congressional election beyond the Beltway.
Politico: Big Medicare Overhaul? Don't Count On It
Confused by what comes after the dueling deficit plans by President Barack Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan? Not sure whether to follow the bipartisan deficit talks led by Vice President Joe Biden, the bipartisan "Gang of Six" talks, or the budget resolution being written by Sen. Kent Conrad, who's also in the "Gang of Six"? (Nather, 5/7).
Politico: Republicans Clarify: We're On The Same Page On Medicare
House Republicans sought to clarify a week of disparate messaging on Medicare in a Friday evening press release, announcing they are on the same page and committed to reworking entitlement programs as part of the bill to raise the debt ceiling. The unified statement is in sharp contrast to the conflicting Republican statements that emerged this week on whether reforming Medicare will be part of debt ceiling talks, or a long-term goal (Sherman, 5/6).
Los Angeles Times: GOP Finding It Hard To Make Progress
The problem was underscored last week when Republicans bowed to political realities on their signature issue of entitlement reform, acknowledging that a plan to overhaul and eventually privatize Medicare would not advance anytime soon, and would not be part of a deal with the White House to raise the government's borrowing limit (Hennessey and Mascaro, 5/8).
CQ HealthBeat: GOP Move Away from Medicare Vouchers May Not Keep Political Damage At Bay
Two leading public opinion analysts said Friday that a House Republican retreat on Rep. Paul D. Ryan's Medicare overhaul plan won't keep the issue from having a lasting impact on the thinking of voters. GOP pollster Bill McInturff said in an interview that he wasn't changing his assessment offered earlier in the week that the Wisconsin Republican's Medicare plan will overshadow the health overhaul law as an issue in the 2012 elections, or his view that it "puts the Democrats back on offense" (Reichard, 5/6).
MSNBC: How Ryan's Foes Defined His Budget Plan
This week Ryan acknowledged that his plan is stymied for now. He told a Bloomberg News breakfast in Washington that he didn't expect a "grand slam" agreement that would include Medicare reform before Congress votes to raise the federal debt limit. "My hope at this moment is to get a single or a double," he said. Ryan's plan, if enacted, would immediately affect Medicaid - not Medicare. But Democrats focused most of their fire on Ryan's Medicare redesign - which would affect none of today's senior citizens - and said little about his Medicaid revamp which would affect many of today's seniors (Curry, 5/6).
The Hill: 'Modest' Medicare Cuts From Conrad To Draw Contrast With GOP
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is looking to strike a sharp contrast with House Republicans when he unveils his budget proposal in coming days. Conrad told The Hill that he will suggest only modest cuts to Medicare to pay for the so-called doctors' fix - the scheduled cuts to doctors' Medicare payments that Congress delays annually. A Democratic source briefed on the proposal said the health savings in Conrad's budget plan would offset the cost of a multi-year doctors' fix. Conrad would not cut Medicare significantly to pay for deficit reduction, the source said (Bolton, 5/7).
The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: Kathleen Sebelius's Outrageous Claim That Cancer Patients Would 'Die Sooner' Under The GOP Medicare Plan
Secretary Sebelius made this eye-popping statement Thursday while testifying on Capitol Hill, after Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J) asked her a question about the Medicare plan advanced by House Republicans: "What might that cost shift and lack of guaranteed benefit mean for an oncology patient, a person with cancer? Give me an example, what it might do there." Her answer was strong stuff, suggesting that the GOP plan could cause people to "die sooner" if they had cancer and ran out of money. We have been critical of some of the ways Republicans have described the plan, but is this even remotely possible? (Kessler, 5/9).
The New York Times: Tight Race For Congress Prompts Visit By Boehner
Mr. Boehner's appearance underscores the national stake in the race, and reflects the changing fortunes of the candidate, Jane L. Corwin. In recent weeks, Ms. Corwin has watched her advantage in the race all but disappear as her Democratic rival, Kathy Hochul, seized upon public uneasiness over the House Republicans' plan to overhaul Medicare, the federal health insurance program for retirees (Hernandez, 5/8).