KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Obama Calls GOP And Dem Leaders To White House For Deficit Talks

As negotiations continue to heat up, health interests are also gearing up to protect against deep cuts.

The New York Times: Obama Summons GOP And Democratic Leaders For Deficit Reduction Talks
President Obama stepped up pressure on Congressional Republicans on Tuesday to agree to a broad deficit-cutting deal, pledging to put popular entitlement programs like Medicare on the table in return for Republican acquiescence to some higher taxes (Landler and Hulse, 7/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Calls For Debt-Limit Summit
President Barack Obama called a budget-deficit summit Thursday at the White House, suggesting he and congressional leaders are moving closer to a deal that would clear the way for a vote to raise the government's borrowing limit and avoid default. … The two sides had agreed to about $1 trillion in cuts in talks led by Vice President Joe Biden, people familiar with the negotiations said. But those talks broke down when Democrats proposed roughly $400 billion in tax increases, prompting Republicans to walk out (Lee and Hook, 7/6).

NPR: Obama Calls Democratic, GOP Leaders To Debt Talks
President Obama has invited Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to the White House Thursday for face-to-face meetings on the budget. "It's my hope that everybody's going to leave their ultimatums at the door," Obama told reporters at the White House Tuesday. "That we'll all leave our political rhetoric at the door, and we're all going to do what's best for our economy and do what's best for our people" (Seabrook, 7/6).

CBS: White House Reportedly Offers Cuts To Medicaid, Medicare, In Deficit Talks
Amid ongoing efforts to work out a deal to raise the debt ceiling, The New York Times reports that the White House is offering up tens of billions of dollars' worth of reductions in Medicaid and Medicare programs - if Republicans agree to increase tax revenues. Cutting short their Fourth of July recess, senators returned to Washington on Tuesday in an effort to reach a deal on reducing the deficit, without which Republicans have said they will not vote for an increase in the debt ceiling. And while CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante reports that there are currently no talks scheduled between congressional Republicans and the White House to discuss the deal, negotiators appear to be working on a proposal that would cut funds from Medicare and Medicaid without majorly overhauling them or imposing direct new costs on beneficiaries (Madison, 7/5).

Connecticut Mirror: In Debt Crisis, Doctors See An Opportunity
With spending cuts central to the debate on the national debt, health interests are understandably nervous. Advocate for the poor worry about Medicaid. Hospitals already are airing commercials, pre-emptively defending against cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. But doctors' groups, led by the American Medical Association, have a different outlook. They see the current wrangling over federal deficits and debt as an opportunity to get their reimbursement issue on the table, not off. Even if it's an issue with a $300 billion fix. That issue is the "broken" federal payment rates used to reimburse doctors for treating Medicare patients (Shesgreen, 7/6).

CQ HealthBeat: Health Care Groups Gear Up For Debt Fight But Odds Of Cuts Uncertain
Skilled nursing facility executives and advocates for the mentally ill weighed in Tuesday on what they said are potentially devastating Medicare and Medicaid cuts in debt ceiling negotiations - but pressure may be growing for a shorter term deal that avoids those cuts, for a little while. Marsha Greenfield, vice president of legislative affairs for Leading Edge, the lobby that represents nonprofit nursing facilities, said during a "town hall" industry meeting Tuesday afternoon that the Medicaid proposal in the debt talks of greatest concern to her sector is one that would establish a single, "blended" percentage figure nationally of what portion of Medicaid is paid by the federal government (Reichard, 7/5).

Politico Pro: Budget Rules Complicate Health Savings
Getting health care spending under control is hard enough because of the politics - but budget rules complicate things further. That's because, in the view of health care and budget experts, the budget rules constrain the choices lawmakers have available to them. As a result, getting a good Congressional Budget Office score can often trump the search for good policy. "Real policy discussion of Medicare is significantly distorted by this alternate reality called 'budget scoring rules,'" said Bruce Vladeck, who oversaw Medicare and Medicaid during the Clinton administration (Feder, 7/5).

The Hill: Sources: Republicans Tout Drug Rebates As Revenue Raisers In Debt Deal
Republican budget negotiators might agree to Medicare drug rebates as their contribution to debt-ceiling negotiations, several sources told The Hill. By demanding that the rebates count as revenue raisers rather than spending cuts, Republicans would be able to say they're meeting Democrats halfway - without actually having to raise taxes, which is anathema to conservatives. The proposal would extend Medicaid drug rebates to the nation's 9 million "dual eligibles," who are on both Medicaid and Medicare but aren't currently covered by the rebates (Pecquet, 7/5). 

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