KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Major News Organizations On Ryan Plan: Solution Or ‘Hypocrisy’?

USA Today: Our View: Dems Bash GOP Budget, But Where's Theirs?
Give House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan credit for finally putting Republicans' money where their mouths have been for years: His 2012 budget proposal, released Tuesday, would actually begin to produce the smaller government Republicans have always said they wanted, even as they were ramping up federal spending, creating a prescription drug benefit without paying for it, campaigning against efforts to curb Medicare, and turning budget surpluses into titanic deficits (4/5).

USA Today: Opposing View From Van Hollen: Ideology On Steroids
It is not bold to end health care guarantees for seniors on Medicare, or to give governors a blank check to cut support for seniors in nursing homes and health insurance for kids. It is not visionary to derail affordable health care for tens of millions of Americans, or to turn back the entitlement reforms and savings accomplished in the last Congress (Rep. Chris Van Hollen, 4/5). 

The Wall Street Journal: The Ryan Resolution
Mr. Ryan's budget rollout is an important political and policy moment because it is the most serious attempt to reform government in at least a generation. The plan offers what voters have been saying they want-a blueprint to address the roots of Washington's fiscal disorder. It does so not by the usual posturing ("paygo") and symbolism (balanced budget amendment) but by going to the heart of the spending problem, especially on the vast and rapidly growing health-care entitlements of Medicaid and Medicare. The Wisconsin Republican's plan is a generational choice, not the usual Beltway echo (4/6). 

The New York Times: The Budget Battles: The Threat To Medicaid And Medicare
Representative Paul Ryan's proposals to reform Medicare and Medicaid are mostly an effort to shift the burden to beneficiaries and the states. They have very little reform in them. They certainly won't solve the two most pressing problems in the nation's health care system: the relentlessly rising cost of care and the shamefully high number of uninsured Americans - now hovering around 50 million (4/5). 

The New York Times: The Budget Battles: Prosperity For Whom?
If the House Republican budget blueprint released on Tuesday is the "path to prosperity" that its title claims, it is hard to imagine what ruin would look like. The plan would condemn millions to the ranks of the uninsured, raise health costs for seniors and renege on the obligation to keep poor children fed.  ... The deficit would be smaller, but at an unacceptable cost. Health care would be hardest hit, followed by nonsecurity discretionary spending (4/5). 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Ryan Budget Plan, Part II: Medicare
In his so-called "Path to Prosperity," U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan pledges to "preserve America's social contract with retired workers" by rescuing Medicare from collapse. ... Unfortunately, Ryan proposes to save Medicare by destroying it. ... Ryan argues that the change from a government-managed plan to a voucher plan would actually drive down the cost of health insurance and make it more affordable for retirees. ... The problem is, we have considerable data proving that such belief is nonsense (Jay Bookman, 4/5).

Fox News: Paul Ryan Is Right About the Budget -- Americans Cannot Afford Another Decade of Massive Government Spending
During President Obama's first three years in office the government's deficits are adding up to over $4.3 trillion. And there is no let up in sight (John Lott, 4/5).

The Washington Post: A First Look At Rep. Ryan's Budget Plan 
Would Mr. Ryan's plan save money by relegating seniors to coverage with fewer services and lower quality care, or by requiring them to pay unduly higher costs? Or would it achieve savings by giving competing providers an incentive to deliver care more efficiently? That deserves debate (4/5).

The Washington Post: Paul Ryan's Dogmatic Budget
The document released by the chairman of the House Budget Committee isn't a serious budget proposal because it fails at the central mission of ending the deficit and taming the debt. Without question, Ryan makes some severe cuts: Taking hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, ending the Medicare entitlement. … Yet for all these cuts, the Republicans' plan increases the federal debt by more than $8 trillion over the next 10 years, and it continues federal budget deficits until nearly 2040 (Dana Milbank, 4/5).

The New York Times: Economic Scene: Generational Divide Colors Debate Over Medicare's Future
The Republican budget ... would replace the current Medicare with a system of private health insurance plans subsidized by the government. Whether you like or loathe that idea, it would undeniably reduce Medicare's long-term funding gap - which is by far the biggest source of looming federal deficits. ...  [Yet it] asks for a whole lot of sacrifice from everyone under the age of 55 and little from everyone 55 and over. Representative Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the plan, calls the budget deficit an "existential threat" to the United States. Then he absolves more than one-third of all adults from responsibility in dealing with that threat (David Leonhardt, 4/5).

Los Angeles Times: The GOP Plan For The Federal Deficit
The overriding factor in the country's long-term fiscal mess is the growth in healthcare costs - in particular, in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Ryan devotes much of the budget document to denouncing last year's healthcare reform law, focusing on its costly new insurance subsidies but ignoring the improvements it is expected to bring to efficiency and quality. And instead of coming up with better ways to slow healthcare inflation and expand access to care, Ryan's budget would gradually reduce the amount of the bill for Medicaid and Medicare that the federal government pays - by punting the cost problems in Medicaid to states and in Medicare to the elderly (4/6). 

MarketWatch: Rep. Paul Ryan's Magic Job Creation
Ryan claims that his budget won't destroy Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, but to meet his goal, we'd have to destroy them. Ryan envisions a nation with untold wealth that lets its old people die in poverty without adequate health care. Such a society could be called many things, but I don't think "prosperous" is one of them (Rex Nutting, 4/6). 

The San Jose Mercury News: Republican Plan Balances Budget On Backs Of Nation's Most Vulnerable 
Here's the ultimate hypocrisy: Medicare is so popular that the GOP won the House partly by bashing Democrats' plans to cut $500 billion from it -- a drop in the ocean compared with this proposal. Ryan's plan is not even a true attempt to reduce the deficit. Its main purpose seems to be financing massive tax cuts for the wealthy (4/6).

The Baltimore Sun: Ryan's Budget Proposal: Promising Goals, Troubling Specifics
In all, Mr. Ryan proposes to find $2.2 trillion in health care savings. This is politically ironic, coming a year after Republicans claimed that President Obama's health care reform law would destroy Medicare. … The problem with Mr. Ryan's approach is that it seeks to control how much the government pays in health care benefits for the poor and elderly, not how much it actually costs to keep them healthy - and that will inevitably result in a rationing of care far more devastating than anything Republicans alleged was part of President Obama's reform bill (5/5). 

The Baltimore Sun: Republicans Have A Chance To Lead On Restoring Fiscal Sanity - But Will They Take It?
To lead, Republicans need to find the courage that Barack Obama lacks on health care and Social Security to regulate drug prices, insurance overhead and torts, and level with Americans about the need to raise the retirement age. They also need to replace Mr. Ryan. Like Mr. Obama, he sounds good but does not have much useful to say. Americans really need adults to govern - but few can be found on either side of Pennsylvania Avenue (Peter Morici, 5/5). 

Kaiser Health News Column: Fix The Class Act. Don't Repeal It.
If it survives, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act would, for the first time, create a national, voluntary long-term care insurance program to help pay for personal care for the frail elderly and younger adults with disabilities. It is a modest first step toward turning long-term care from an unsustainable and inappropriate welfare program into an insurance-based system (Howard Gleckman, 4/6).

The Seattle Times: Insurance-Rate Requests Should Be Made Public
The state Senate should pass House Bill 1220, which would give the public the right to see the requests insurance companies file when they want to raise health-insurance rates. These requests are complicated and will not be of much value to most people, but they will be read by activists, lawyers and competitors. The benefit from that is not guaranteed, but it is our belief that it is better to shine a light on such things than to keep them in the dark (4/5). 

The Arizona Republic: State's Deadly Delay Unnecessary
After six dark months, Arizona is finally restoring transplant funding. The state will again pay for life-saving procedures that were dropped from AHCCCS coverage last Oct. 1. ... It's a relief. But we can hardly feel happy. ... Two on the waiting list have died since October, one of whom might have been saved. ...  This is a rare instance when a budget line is a life-and-death decision. We're glad the transplant funding was restored. It should have happened sooner (4/6).

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