KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Adviser Plouffe, Rep. Ryan Dispute Medicare, Medicaid Reform

The Sunday talk shows brought out fundamental differences on what to do about entitlement programs.

The Associated Press: "President Obama will lay out new plans this week to reduce the federal deficit in part by seeking cuts to government programs for seniors and the poor, a top political adviser said Sunday, adding that Americans expect both sides to work together" (Kellman, 4/10).

Bloomberg: "Plouffe said Obama in his speech this week will address the need to control entitlement spending on such programs as Medicare and Medicaid that provide health care for millions of Americans" (Smith and Louis, 4/10).

Fox News: "The White House said in a Twitter post that the president would deliver his opening speech on the plan Wednesday" (4/10).

The Hill: "[House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)] Cantor, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said Republicans can use the upcoming debt-limit vote to push through Medicare and Medicaid reforms outlined in their 2012 budget. The plan, which would eventually turn Medicare into a voucher-like program and block grant Medicaid, virtually has no chance of passing through a Democratic Senate or White House on its own" (Millman, 4/10).

MSNBC: "House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R- Wis., defended his plan to redesign the federal government's health insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid, on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, saying it was necessary to avert a sovereign debt crisis. 'We need a clean break from the politics of the past,' he said. 'We have a debt crisis staring us in the face'" (Curry, 4/10).

Politico: "Ryan also defended his budget blueprint, noting that the Congressional Budget Office predicts Medicare will go bankrupt in nine years. 'So what are we doing? We're preserving and protecting it,' he said. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has disputed Ryan's claim" (Catanese, 4/10).

CNN: "Plouffe, who appeared on four Sunday talk shows to deliver the administration's message, told CNN that Ryan's plan offered an unbalanced approach that put the burden of fixing the nation's fiscal problems on the elderly and the poor. Under the GOP plan, he said, 'the average millionaire in this country would get a $200,000 tax cut,' while the average senior citizen in the future will face a $6,000 increase in health care costs" (Cohen, 4/10).

Earlier, related KHN story: CBO: Seniors Would Pay Much More For Medicare Under Ryan Plan (Appleby, Carey and McGinley, 4/5).

The Washington Post does a fact check on some of Ryan's claims when he discussed his proposal last week: "Mysteriously, although Ryan relies on the CBO to vouch for his plan, he appears to ignore CBO estimates that a repeal of the health-care law would lead to an increase in the deficit. Instead, a substantial part of his claimed deficit reduction - $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years - comes from repealing the health-care law. Where do those numbers come from? Ryan does not explain, and his spokesman did not respond to a query" (Kessler, 4/9).

CBS News: "[C]orrespondent Cynthia Bowers visited his district, and says that while Ryan's reviews are mixed, many residents are supportive of the congressman's approach. ... With the national debt topping $14 trillion, folks in his district say they appreciate Ryan's willingness to risk his political future" (Bowers, 4/9).

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: "History suggests they be wary of seeking significant changes to Medicare, Social Security or subsidy programs without at least some Democratic support. One-party drives typically have failed. In 1981 and 1985, President Ronald Reagan and GOP lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to trim Social Security benefits. Gingrich's failed effort to rein in Medicare in 1995 led to politically damaging government shutdowns. ... Happier results came from bipartisan agreements to raise Social Security's eligibility age and payroll taxes in 1983, and to curb welfare benefits in 1996 under President Bill Clinton" (Babington, 4/10).

Related on KHN: Resources And Proposals On Curbing Medicare Cost Growth

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