Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports about how increasing the Medicare eligibility age and making other entitlement program changes are a part of the ongoing “fiscal cliff” discourse.
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Cliff’ Wranglers Weigh Medicare Age The fiscal cliff has revived an old idea that long seemed unfeasible: gradually raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from 65. Proponents of the idea point out that the health-overhaul law makes it easier, beginning in 2014, for seniors to buy private insurance, by banning insurance denials based on pre-existing conditions. Opponents caution that the change could raise premiums for younger people who buy private plans alongside these seniors in the law’s new marketplaces, and on large employers who would be required to cover seniors in company plans.(Radnofsky, 11/26).
The New York Times: Efforts To Curb Social Spending Face Resistance President Obama’s re-election and Democratic gains in Congress were supposed to make it easier for the party to strike a deal with Republicans to resolve the year-end fiscal crisis by providing new leverage. But they could also make it harder as empowered Democrats, including some elected on liberal platforms, resist significant changes in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare (Pear, 11/26).
For more headlines …
The Washington Post: On ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ Both Sides Lay Groundwork For Debate’s Next Phase Ahead of the Wednesday meeting, GOP aides noted that Bowles offered a debt-reduction plan last fall in line with Republican principles. That plan called for $800 billion in fresh revenue through an overhaul of the tax code and significant spending cuts, including major changes to Medicare and other federal health programs (Goldfarb and Montgomery, 11/26).
Los Angeles Times: Much Talk, Little Action On ‘Fiscal Cliff’ As Congress Returns Congress returned to a lame-duck session with no signs of quick compromise to ease the nation’s budget deadlock, and the White House rolled out a strategy Monday to marshal popular support for raising taxes on the wealthiest tier of income earners. … In the days since, however, talks have become “slow,” according to one congressional aide. Republicans insist that new revenue must come from economic growth, which they believe would be produced by revamping the tax code to lower all tax brackets — an approach Democrats reject as “fairy tale” economics. Democrats are unwilling to discuss cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or other government programs unless Republicans put upfront revenue on the table, aides said (Mascaro and Parsons, 11/27).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: GOP Senator Offers Plan To Avert ‘Fiscal Cliff’: Spending Cuts, Entitlement Curbs, Tax Hikes A freshman GOP senator is jumping into the debate on how to avoid a “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and automatic spending cuts, advocating a mix of tax increases with curbs on Social Security and Medicare benefits. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is circulating a 10-year, $4.5 trillion plan loaded with controversial proposals, including a less generous inflation adjustment for Social Security, and a gradual increase in the regular Social Security retirement age to 68 and the Medicare eligibility age to 67 (11/27).
The Wall Street Journal: Court Orders New Review Of Health Law The Supreme Court told a federal-appeals court Monday to consider several lesser-known legal arguments against the national health-care law, in an order backed by the White House. The move came in a case brought by Liberty University, a Lynchburg, Va., college founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, and observers said the challenge was unlikely to succeed (Bravin, 11/26).
Los Angeles Times: Liberty University Allowed To Argue Claims Against Healthcare Law The Supreme Court rectified an oversight Monday and gave a Baptist university in Virginia a chance to argue in a lower court two claims that were not considered in June when the justices upheld President Obama’s healthcare law. Lawyers for Liberty University say it is unconstitutional for the government to require large employers to provide health insurance to their full-time workers or pay a tax (Savage, 11/26).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Supreme Court Orders New Look At Christian College’s Health Care Challenge The Supreme Court has revived a Christian college’s challenge to President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, with the acquiescence of the Obama administration. The court on Monday ordered the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., to consider the claim by Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., that Obama’s health care law violates the school’s religious freedoms (11/26).
Politico: SCOTUS Orders Appeals Court To Hear Liberty University Health Care Lawsuit The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to examine the constitutionality of the health care reform law’s employer requirements and mandatory coverage of contraceptives without a co-pay. The move could open the door for President Barack Obama’s health law to be back in front of the Supreme Court late next year. But legal experts say there’s no guarantee that the justices would actually take the case — or that they’d strike down those pieces of the law if they did (Haberkorn and Smith, 11/27).
The New York Times: Justices Consider Definition Of Supervisor In Job Discrimination Case The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday about who counts as a supervisor under a federal employment discrimination law. The court also issued orders clearing the way for further challenges to aspects of President Obama’s health care law and rejecting an appeal concerning the insanity defense (Liptak, 11/26).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Report Says States Can Get More Than $9 From Feds For Every $1 They Spend To Expand Medicaid States will receive more than $9 in federal money for every $1 they spend to cover low-income residents under President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to a nonpartisan analysis released Monday. Expanding Medicaid to cover about 20 million more low-income people will cost over $1 trillion nationally from 2013 to 2022, said the joint report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Urban Institute (11/26).
The New York Times: A Study Of Home Help Finds Low Worker Pay Nannies, caregivers and housecleaners earn a median wage of about $10 an hour, and few receive benefits like health insurance or paid sick days, according to the first-ever national statistical study of domestic workers, which is being released on Tuesday (Greenhouse, 11/26).
Los Angeles Times: UnitedHealth’s Earnings Outlook Is Below Expectations UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation’s largest health insurer, issued a weaker-than-expected 2013 profit outlook amid worries about economic growth and negotiations over federal spending. Ahead of its annual investor conference Tuesday, UnitedHealth said it expects earnings next year to be $5.25 to $5.50 a share. That’s slightly below the average analyst estimate of $5.58 a share (Terhune, 11/27).