KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Ryan Budget Plan Would Revamp Medicare, Medicaid

The blueprint is an election-year marker that envisions a smaller government and deep cuts to entitlement and safety net programs. It has no chance of passage this year.

The New York Times: House GOP Lays Down Marker With New Budget Plan
House Republicans thrust their vision of a smaller government, a flatter tax code and a free-market Medicare system into the 2012 election season on Tuesday, banking that fears over surging federal deficits will trump longstanding voter allegiances to popular government programs (Weisman, 3/20).

The Washington Post: GOP Budget Plan Cuts Deeply Into Domestic Programs, Reshapes Medicare, Medicaid
House Republicans laid down a bold but risky election-year marker Tuesday, unveiling a budget proposal that aims to tame the national debt by reshaping Medicare and cutting deeply into Medicaid, … while reshuffling the tax code to sharply lower rates. Congressional Republicans plan to use the document to demonstrate their willingness to tackle the nation’s difficult fiscal problems head-on (Helderman and Montgomery, 3/20).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Analyzing Ryan's New Budget Proposal
Kaiser Health News' Marilyn Werber Serafini and Mary Agnes Carey discuss the budget Wis. Republican Rep. Paul Ryan released today and how it differs from the proposal he released last year (3/20). Watch the video or read the transcript. Other KHN coverage includes the following story, New Ryan Budget Would Transform Medicare And Medicaid (Werber Serafini, 3/20), Ryan plan documents and video clips from the press conference where the plan was released.

The Associated Press: Cut Spending Much More Deeply, House GOP Plan Says
Mixing deep cuts to safety-net programs for the poor with politically risky cost curbs for Medicare, Republicans controlling the House unveiled an election-year budget blueprint Tuesday that paints clear campaign differences with President Barack Obama. The announcement reignited a full-throated budget battle. Republicans cast themselves as stepping up to a federal deficit crisis long ignored by both parties, while Democrats and their allies responded with promises to protect the elderly and the poor from drastic cuts they said would harm the most vulnerable Americans (Taylor, 3/20).

The Associated Press: GOP Medicare Plan Borrows From And Repeals Obama's
A new Republican budget would repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul but put future retirees in a version of Medicare that strangely resembles one of the key cogs in that same plan. Sound contradictory? Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the top GOP budget writer, borrowed the idea of insurance exchanges, a big pooled marketplace, from the health care law enacted in Massachusetts when GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was governor. Ryan wants to set one up for Medicare. Obama borrowed the same idea to make exchanges available to uninsured working families through his law (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/21).

The Hill: CBO: Ryan Policies Would Cut Medicare Spending, Increase Number Of Uninsured
Medicare benefits would likely shrink under Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) latest proposal, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday. The budget office also said the number of people without health insurance could be "much higher" under Ryan's plan because it would repeal President Obama's healthcare law. Ryan’s Medicare plan would convert some of the program’s funding into subsidies for private insurance. Seniors could choose between the traditional single-payer program or a private plan (Baker, 3/20).

The Fiscal Times: Ryan's New Budget Overhauls Medicare and Taxes
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif [said] "The American people have already rejected this plan before, and this year will be no different. Americans' priorities are clear: Republicans must work with Democrats to preserve and strengthen Medicare, not dismantle it" (Pianin and Hirsch, 3/20). 

MedPage Today: GOP Tries Again on Medicare Overhaul
Once a beneficiary chooses a plan, the government would send that plan a "premium support" payment equal to either the cost of traditional Medicare or the second least-expensive private plan, whichever is less. The arrangement is not technically considered a voucher program because the payment goes directly to the plan rather than to the beneficiary themselves (Frieden, 3/20).

Politico Pro: House GOP May Move 'Duals' Into Medicare
Once you crack the code words, the House budget blueprint contains another potential big change to health policy: having Medicare take over the "dual eligibles." House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's proposal doesn't say it outright, but a committee staffer confirms that the document hints at this policy change by saying, "Medicare will provide additional assistance for lower-income beneficiaries and those with greater health care needs" (Feder, 3/20).

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