‘Super Committee’ Faces Big Challenges, Lots Of Input From Stakeholders
In order to lay out some specific options from which the panel might extract savings, House Ways and Means Democrats have provided a list of Medicare trims.
The Washington Post: Debt Super Committee Faces Super-Sized Challenges
The new bipartisan congressional committee created to reduce the federal deficit will hold its first meeting Thursday, and if it is to fulfill its mandate, it must come up with enough savings to buy every team in the National Football League. And then buy the whole league over and over again — 35 times. The mission is to lower the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, enough money to cash out Oprah Winfrey 400 times over (Helderman, 9/7).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: As Congressional Debt Reduction Panel Starts Its Work, Democrats Want It To Address Jobs Too
The panel is charged with finding, by Thanksgiving, $1.5 trillion in savings over the next decade, no easy task given the capital's sharp partisan divisions. Democrats want to produce a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases. Republicans have insisted they would oppose tax increases, though some have indicated they might accept the closing of some tax loopholes (Fram, 9/8).
Politico: Many Have Input For Super Committee
The Defense and State departments — and their allies in Congress and on K Street — are warning that steep cuts could endanger national security. Powerful players in the health sector are calculating that they face less exposure if the super committee fails and automatic cuts to Medicare — limited to about 2 percent by the new debt-limit law — are imposed. Even Washington's cottage industry of "good government" groups are leaning on lawmakers to conduct the kind of public deliberations that some insiders think would make it impossible for the super committee to make a deal (Allen and Kim, 9/8).
CQ HealthBeat: Ways And Means Democrats Outline Possible Medicare Cuts For Debt Panel
The House Ways and Means Democratic staff has prepared a list of possible cuts to the Medicare program totaling more than $500 billion over 10 years, according to documents obtained by CQ HealthBeat. Sarah Baldauf, a spokeswoman for California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said the cuts are for “internal” use and that the list does not represent an endorsement of such reductions. The list is being circulated among Democrats to prepare them for possible cuts that will be considered by the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction. The committee is charged with recommending $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years as part of the debt ceiling law. If the recommendations do not become law, a trigger mechanism will cut two percent from Medicare payments as part of an overall package of reductions. The law also permits a combination of legislation from the committee and automatic reductions to reach that savings figure (Reichard, 9/7).
Politico Pro: Ways And Means Dems List Medicare Cuts
Democratic aides on the Ways and Means Committee have identified more than $500 billion in potential savings from the Medicare program for the super committee to review. The biggest money-raisers on the list — a compilation of ideas that have been raised before by other deficit groups or MedPAC — are also some of the most controversial. For example, raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 — an idea President Barack Obama considered during the summer debt talks — would raise $124.8 billion over 10 years. And establishing a prescription drug rebate for dual eligibles, people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, would bring in $120 billion. Pharmaceutical companies have strongly resisted previous efforts to require drugmakers to issue rebates for so-called dual eligibles. But the idea may prove to be too tempting for the super committee to ignore (Haberkorn and Dobias, 9/7).
The Hill: House Dems Outline Health Care Savings For Super Committee
The biggest-ticket items on the Ways and Means list are, of course, the most politically charged. Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 could save about $125 billion over the next decade, according to the committee's summary. But the document warns that "raising the Medicare eligibility age would be a radical departure from current policy and is only possible if the (healthcare reform law) is retained." President Obama proposed raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of the debt-ceiling agreement, but Democrats are hardly united behind the policy (Baker, 9/7).
Roll Call: Democratic Memo Outlines Possible Cuts For Super Committee
A memo from Democratic staff outlining options for deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid as well as tax increases on high earners raised eyebrows Wednesday ahead of the first meeting of the joint committee tasked with addressing the deficit. The memo, which aides cautioned was a summary of options and not formal recommendations, detailed hundreds of billions of dollars in potential reductions in the rate of growth in Medicare and Medicaid, including $124 billion in savings from raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 (Brady and Dennis, 9/7).