KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Ryan Defends Medicare, Medicaid Plan; Gingrich Tries To Counter Last Week’s Attack On GOP Budget

News outlets report on continuing fallout of Newt Gingrich's comments last week on Medicare. Today Rep. Paul Ryan, the author of the GOP plan, responded and Gingrich appeared again on a Sunday talk show.

The Washington Post: Paul Ryan: Gingrich 'Deeply Inaccurate' On Medicare plan
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) .... called GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's assessment of his Medicare plan "deeply inaccurate" and a "gross mischaracterization." Ryan said his Medicare plan is "sensible and as gradual as it gets" (DeLong and Blake, 5/22).

Video: Gingrich's remarks on Sunday, May 15

Bloomberg: U.S. Debt Limit Increase Agreement May Take Until August, Ryan Tells NBC
Ryan defended a Republican budget plan that would cut spending by more than $6 trillion over a decade and privatize Medicare. The proposal would replace the traditional Medicare health-care system for the elderly with subsidies to buy private insurance starting with people who turn 65 in 2022. "You cannot deal with this debt crisis unless you're serious about entitlement reform," Ryan said (Brush and Riley, 5/22).

MSNBC: Ryan Leaves Slight Opening For GOP Nomination
Ryan has been driving the fiscal debate in Washington with his plan to cut federal debt and fundamentally redesign Medicare and Medicaid, the two entitlement programs that now account for more than one-fifth of federal spending (Curry, 5/22).

Fox News: Ryan Challenges Democrats to Propose Alternative to His Budget
Ryan said ... he's not surprised since the plan has been distorted by people who wish to take political advantage by creating confusion about it. "We're offering details. We have no partners on the other side of the aisle offering anything but misleading scare tactics," Ryan said on NBC's "Meet the Press." ... Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ranking minority on the House Budget Committee, said debt reduction must come from both sides of the ledger -- and that means increasing revenues. "Political courage on the Republican side means taking on the revenue piece," Van Hollen said later on the same show. ... "It doesn't take a lot of courage on the Republican side to slash Medicaid by $700 billion" (5/22). 

Politico: Gingrich Says He And Ryan 'On The Same Side'
Stung by criticism over his attack on fellow Republican Paul Ryan's deficit reduction plan, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday the two are on the same side. ... "It is a big plan that needs to be worked through with the American people," Gingrich said. "In that process, it will clearly be modified." Last week, Gingrich called Ryan's Medicare plan "right-wing social engineering." On Sunday. Gingrich moved closer to supporting "the direction (Ryan) is going" (Mason, 5/22).

Los Angeles Times: One Week Later, Gingrich Says He And Ryan Agree On Medicare Approach 
 His larger point, [Gingrich] said, was that the GOP needed to make their case to the American people before moving forward with their plan.  "This is the beginning of a profound conversation about a fiscal crisis that is going to crush this country," Gingrich said. "I don't think anybody including Paul Ryan believes that you come out and say, 'Take it or leave it.' This is the beginning of a conversation. He and I are on the same side in that conversation. Obama's on the opposite side of the conversation." (Memoli, 5/22).

Roll Call: McConnell Looks to Biden Talks for Budget Compromise
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to say Sunday whether he supports the Medicare component of the House GOP budget proposal, and he reiterated that any real movement on looming fiscal issues would take place in closed-door meetings being led by Vice President Joseph Biden. ...  McConnell emphasized that Medicare's path is unsustainable, and he linked an overhaul of the program to ongoing talks to raise the debt ceiling. "To get my vote on raising the debt ceiling, we're going to have to have significant changes to both Medicare and Medicaid," he said. Although McConnell didn't outright endorse Ryan's Medicare proposal, he did say it would empower seniors, and he accused President Barack Obama of trying to "ration" Medicare (Miller, 5/22).

The Associated Press: Democrats Meddle In Slow-Starting GOP Primary 
But the White House and its allies are meddling from the sidelines with a good cop, bad cop routine, hoping to exploit the GOP's late start. A pro-Obama group called Priorities USA is airing a TV ad in South Carolina that jabs Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, two of the best-known Republican contenders. ... Obama keeps offering praise, which he knows can damage a candidate in a Republican primary, to Romney on health care issues ... As Massachusetts governor in 2006, Romney enacted a state law that, like the federal one, requires people to obtain health insurance. ... Democrats feel Gingrich gave them a new opening on the health care front when he called a recently passed GOP House bill "radical." It would reduce Medicare's costs and benefits over time and convert Medicaid to a state block grant program  (Babington, 5/22).


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