KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Tells Senate Dems Entitlement Programs May Have To Change

In a meeting on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama told members of his party that some changes to Medicare might be necessary to ensure the program's survival. Obama also said that Republicans would have to give on revenue hikes before he would agree to entitlement changes.

The New York Times: Obama Discusses Entitlement Changes With Senate Democrats
Mr. Obama expressed hope of reaching a "grand bargain" in the next few months, according to the senators at the meeting, and said he was optimistic about an immigration bill. The president arrived at 1:30 p.m. and stayed until 2:45 p.m., which was a half-hour longer than scheduled, largely because he was peppered with so many questions. While the tenor of the discussion was civil, several senators voiced concerns about cuts in popular programs like Medicare and Social Security, according to people at the meeting. "He clearly shares our concern that we're not going to do this deal on the backs of needy Medicare and Social Security recipients," said Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut (Landler and Steinhauer, 3/12).

Politico: President Obama To Democrats: Entitlements May Have To Change
But Obama acknowledged that Social Security and Medicare — big drivers of federal spending — wouldn't survive without some changes to save money. Obama added that Republicans must first agree to more revenue hikes before the White House would concede on changes to entitlement programs, senators attending the luncheon said. Obama seemed to be opening the door a crack toward a way forward: if the White House is seen as willing to put entitlements on the table, some Republicans may reconsider their staunch opposition to new revenue (Gibson, 3/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama, Democrats Discuss Safety-Net Programs
President Barack Obama, meeting behind closed doors with Senate Democrats on Tuesday, indicated he was open to negotiating changes to entitlement programs, something that Republicans have demanded, according to lawmakers who attended the meeting. Mr. Obama met with Senate Democrats as he was making a new push with lawmakers to reach a broad deficit-reduction deal. Lawmakers emerging from the meeting said Mr. Obama had a wide-ranging conversation with Senate Democrats on sensitive party issues surrounding federal safety-net programs (Hughes, 3/12).

CQ HealthBeat: Obama Bucks Up Democrats
President Barack Obama told Senate Democrats he would not negotiate over the expiring debt ceiling and would stick to his demand for new revenue as part of any grand bargain to cut the deficit and eliminate the sequester, Democrats said Tuesday. But during the president’s visit to Senate Democrats’ regular Tuesday luncheon, the president pushed back against liberals, saying that entitlement changes to Medicare and other programs would ultimately be needed (Dennis and Sanchez, 3/13).

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