KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Passage Likely For Government-Wide Spending Bill

Even as the bipartisan measure, which would fund the federal government through the current fiscal year, progresses through Congress, the larger deficit debate continues as the parties move forward with starkly different fiscal blueprints.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Congress Works On Budget For Both 2013 And Future; Passage Of Catchall Spending Bill Likely
Congress is finally cleaning up its unfinished budget business for the long-underway 2013 budget year with a bipartisan government-wide funding bill, even as the combatants in the House and Senate gear up for votes this week on largely symbolic measures outlining stark differences between Democrats and Republicans about how to fix the nation’s long-term deficit woes. … House Republicans are moving first with a plan sharply slashing health care for the poor, budgets for domestic agencies like the FBI and the National Park Service, and safety net programs like food stamps. Senate Democrats are countering with a mostly stand-pat approach that hikes taxes by almost $1 trillion over a decade while reversing already-enacted across-the-board spending cuts that are slamming both the Pentagon and domestic agencies (3/19).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: House GOP Group Would End Deficit In 4 Years
The Republican Study Committee, an influential group of 171 conservative House lawmakers, introduced a budget Monday that it says would eliminate the deficit in four years through deeper spending cuts and more immediate changes to federal health-care programs than the Ryan plan, which the House is expected to vote on later this week. Unlike the blueprint from Mr. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, the RSC plan would offer seniors the option of buying private health insurance or traditional Medicare beginning in 2019 and exempt only those 60 years old and older. The House Budget Committee plan for Medicare would not kick in until 2024, and wouldn't affect those 55 and older. And only the conservative plan proposes raising the Medicare eligibility age to 70 from 65, starting in 2024 (Peterson, 3/18).

Politico: New Republican Message: Balanced Budgets
Instead of focusing on selling the conversion of Medicare into a premium support program, Republicans will incessantly pound home the theme of balancing the budget, GOP leaders say. When talking about the Democrats’ plan, Republicans criticize it for attempting to raise taxes and the fact that it doesn’t balance the budget (Sherman, 3/18).

Georgia Health News: Rep. Upton Urges Bipartisanship On Entitlements
Both political parties must work together to produce savings in entitlement programs, which is necessary to balance the federal budget, the chairman of a key congressional committee told an Atlanta audience Monday. Entitlement programs Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are "the big elephant in the room," Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at a health care forum sponsored by the law firm King & Spalding. He noted that the budget plan released last week by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) did not include savings from entitlement programs (Miller, 3/18).

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