Today’s Headlines – Sept. 16, 2011

Happy Friday! Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports that, despite dire predictions by health law opponents about the Medicare Advantage program, its premiums are falling and its enrollment is rising.

The Washington Post: Boehner Says No New Taxes For Debt Panel
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday reaffirmed GOP opposition to any tax increases to solve the nation’s deficit problem, signaling a swift return to the trench warfare that characterized the debt and spending debate of early summer. Boehner said that the special committee seeking long-term debt reduction should achieve its mandated $1.5 trillion in savings entirely by cutting federal agency spending and shrinking entitlement programs (Kane and Helderman, 9/15).

For more headlines …

The Wall Street Journal: Boehner Pushes Tax Overhaul
The Boehner speech came as the White House was preparing to present its own deficit-reduction recommendations next week to the supercommittee. The Wall Street Journal reported the president has decided against including proposals to slow the growth of Social Security spending. But many Democrats remain concerned that the package will revive proposals to pare entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid and that the deficit debate will distract from Mr. Obama’s jobs proposal. “The president should continue to talk about jobs,” said Rep. George Miller (D., Calif.) (Hook, 9/16).

Politico: Obama To Shield Social Security In Deficit-Reduction
The shift away from Social Security will allow him to avoid a clash with his Democratic base over the popular retirement program at a time when he needs its support more than ever, both to push for his $447 billion jobs program and to buck up his lagging poll numbers. Medicare could be a different story, though, as the White House revisits some unpopular ideas from the talks with Boehner (Budoff Brown, 9/15).

Politico: Obama Jobs Plan: Raise Taxes On Health Care
The White House wants another shot at requiring some Americans to pay more for their employer-backed health coverage, despite a previously tepid response from the very same lawmakers needed to advance the proposal (Dobias, 9/15).

USA Today: Medicare Premiums Drop, Enrollment Rises In Health Care Law
Medicare Advantage premiums fell while enrollment rose this year, despite predictions from opponents of last year’s federal health care law that it would drive down enrollment and force up premiums. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials said Thursday that enrollment will rise another 10% more in 2012 and that premiums will fall 4%. Extra benefits in some Medicare Advantage plans, such as for vision or hearing, also are expected to remain the same (Kennedy, 9/16).

Politico: CLASS Act Under Fire, But Experts See Plenty Of Fixes
A new report adds fresh details to the conventional wisdom that a new long-term care insurance program is fiscally out of whack — but there’s also widespread agreement among experts that there are lots of ways to try to fix it (Kenen, 9/15).

Los Angeles Times: Rick Perry Tells Iowans That Romneycare Cost Them
Texas Gov. Rick Perry opened an Iowa campaign swing tonight by ramping up his attacks on Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney’s record as Massachusetts governor, calling his “misguided health mandates” a burden to taxpayers nationwide (Finnegan, 9/15).

The Associated Press: Republican Perry Says Romney Health Plan Cost Jobs
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said Thursday the health care bill GOP rival Mitt Romney enacted in Massachusetts paved the way for President Barack Obama’s federal health law last year and cost the state jobs (9/15).