KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

With Deal In Place, Focus Shifts To Role Of ‘Super Committee’

This panel will be tasked with searching out more than $1 trillion in spending reductions from the mandatory-spending side of the budget, which includes Medicare and Medicaid. If they fail, automatic across-the-board cuts will be triggered.

The Washington Post: President Obama Signs Debt-Limit Bill Into Law
With the immediate crisis averted, Obama and congressional leaders quickly turned their attention to the next front in the war over the federal budget: a new legislative committee that will have the job of developing a broader plan to control the government's debt. … The bipartisan panel, to be named this month, is likely to confront the same ideological divide that caused an almost crippling impasse in the debt-limit debate. Republican leaders are warning that they will not include anyone on the panel who is willing to raise taxes, prompting Democrats to threaten a hard line against cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits (Montgomery, 8/2).

The Associated Press: Lucky Dozen Lawmakers To Tackle Hard Stuff On Debt
The agreement enacted Tuesday calls for $917 billion in discretionary spending to be cut over a decade from Cabinet-level agencies and the thousands of programs they administer. The new committee will scour the so-called mandatory side of the budget - programs whose spending levels run on autopilot. They include Medicare and Medicaid, the government's health care for seniors and the poor, as well as Social Security and veterans' retirement benefits (Kellman, 8/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Deficit Battle Shifts To Panel
The panel's six Democrats and six Republicans are to make recommendations by Nov. 23, with Congress voting on the package by Dec. 23. Congress won't be able to amend the proposal, and Senate approval will take 51 votes instead of the usual 60 needed to avoid a filibuster. If the panel deadlocks, or Congress doesn't accept its recommendations, an array of cuts totaling $1.2 trillion would kick in. The White House and Republicans were already battling Tuesday over what budget projections the committee would use to forecast future deficits, a decision with major implications for how the tax code could be changed as part of any plan (Bendavid and Lee, 8/3).

Kaiser Health News: Health Care Recommendations From Previous Bipartisan Deficit-Reduction Groups (Documents)
The debt-ceiling agreement that President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday calls for a bipartisan "super committee" – 12 members of Congress, selected by the leadership – to come up with $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in cuts to the federal budget deficit over 10 years. This is not the first effort to find a bipartisan agreement on reducing the federal deficit; over the past year, there have been four bipartisan proposals. None made it close to being enacted. Here is a guide to their recommendations about health care, drawn from their summaries or the final report (8/2).

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