KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Reining In Medicare Costs: Lots Of Talk But Little Action

News outlets report on how efforts to control Medicare spending often get lost in political messages and campaign posturing.

The New York Times: The Caucus: For Republicans, Clear Approach To Medicare Has Many Sides
Among the Republican fiscal hawks, the 2012 election is supposed to be a stark choice between a Republican Party willing to make the tough spending decisions necessary to get the deficit under control and a profligate Democratic Party still relying on "Mediscare" tactics to avoid responsibility. Republican campaigns do not appear to be ready to embrace this message (Weisman, 5/3).

The Associated Press: Spin Meter: Lawmakers' Talk Of Cuts Is Just Talk
Presidents and lawmakers of every stripe have talked for years of needing to rein in Social Security and Medicare. They often campaign in ways to make sure it doesn't happen... In 2010, Republicans took control of the House after accusing dozens of Democrats of wanting to gut Medicare. The Democrats had voted for Obama's health care overhaul, which envisioned $500 billion in Medicare savings over 10 years. And liberals rebuked Obama last year for showing openness to reduced benefits for Social Security and Medicare in exchange for tax increases under a never-realized "grand bargain" with Republicans (Babington, 5/4).

Kaiser Health News: FAQ: Obama V. Ryan On Controlling Federal Medicare Spending
It may come as a surprise that President Barack Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee, are pushing the same target rate for curbing annual federal spending on Medicare. Each would set it at half a percentage point higher than the growth rate of the economy – the gross domestic product (Werber Serafini, 5/3).

Politico: Feingold: Pelosi Wobbly On Social Security
Former Sen. Russ Feingold is going after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for what he calls "a disturbing potential willingness to adopt a plan that could slash" Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits. In an email to supporters of his group, Progressives United, Feingold … said Pelosi is the latest in a growing trend of Democrats who are wavering on defending Medicare. He even hints at a comparison of Pelosi with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Haberkorn, 5/3).

Meanwhile, in news from Capitol Hill -

Roll Call: Chris Van Hollen Pans GOP's Plan To Undo Sequester
House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen released a report this week skewering Republicans over their plans to replace mandatory spending cuts with reductions to entitlements, health care and other Democratic priorities. ... In particular, Van Hollen objected to cuts to food stamps, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, President Barack Obama’s 2010 heath care law and social services block grants, which help states fund programs for low-income people (Newhauser, 5/4).

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