Editorials Dissect Debt Deal, Contraception, HSAs, Long-Term Care
Los Angeles Times: Debt Ceiling: A Squandered Deal
The long-term challenge for the federal budget is in benefit programs. Rising healthcare costs and the aging population are driving the budgets for Medicaid and Medicare through the roof, causing those programs to consume an ever-larger percentage of the budget. The healthcare reform law should help, but unless changes are made, the growth in Medicare and Medicaid will gradually force federal and state governments to slash funding for other priorities (8/1).
The Washington Post: House Vote Eases The Political Crisis But Not The Fiscal Crisis
Nothing is off the committee's table. In theory, it could recommend further cuts in discretionary spending; changes to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Social Security; and increases in tax revenue. In practice, achieving a majority promises to be excruciatingly difficult (8/1).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Necessary And Bad
The debt debate was a missed opportunity. We think earlier proposals, including one from the so-called Gang of Six senators, were better balanced. Until revenue and entitlements are back on the table, there will not be serious deficit reduction. ... Those $1.2 trillion in cuts let the biggest budget-busters off the hook. Programs for low-income people would be exempt (including Medicaid) and Social Security would be exempt; cuts to Medicare would be limited (8/1).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Debt Crisis Averted, But Real Work Ahead
[T]he cuts will be painful but won't even come close to balancing the budget. Worse, the initial cuts will disproportionately come from a category of spending that includes scientific research, public health, national parks and other programs that invest in the nation's well-being and its future. The deal hands off responsibility on three key drivers of soaring federal spending -- Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid -- to the bipartisan commission. Spending on these programs is not sustainable (8/1).
The Wall Street Journal: The Soaring Public Health Tab
In the dozen or so states with property tax caps, local governments and school districts are finding savings by modifying their health plans. Other governments will have to do the same to avoid a taxpayer exodus. ... But a better solution would be to offer consumer-driven plans that encourage workers to use health resources more judiciously since they must pay higher out-of-pocket expenses. ... Alas, ObamaCare may poison the well for reform if Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decides that HSAs don't meet the law's requirements for mandated "essential" coverage (8/2).
Bloomberg: Eliminating Contraceptive Copayments Is In Insurers' Best Interest
Although Secretary Sebelius will take heat for her decision, there are strong economic arguments in her favor. The reason insurers should pay 100 percent is to take price out of the equation. Insurance companies would have to pay a little more for contraception, but it could still lower health-care costs for them, and for all of us (8/1).
Des Moines Register: Seniors: Beware Of Financial 'Help'
"Dr. Marion" showed up at Luther Park's senior living facility in Des Moines last week in a 1967 converted Greyhound bus. She is on a mission: to inform Americans about the need to plan for the financial realities of an aging country. If the goal of Dr. Marion's campaign is really to help people protect themselves, she should be warning them about the $3 billion seniors lost last year to financial predators, the problems today's seniors have had with long-term care coverage and the complexity of reverse mortgages. She should be informing them the federal government is crafting a long-term care insurance program (8/1).