KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Obama Opposes Raising Medicare’s Eligibility Age To Reduce Spending

According to White House spokesman Jay Carney, the president does not believe this is the right policy to take, although he is open to discussing other entitlement program changes.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: White House: Obama Opposes Higher Age For Medicare In Any Budget Talks
The White House says President Barack Obama opposes raising the eligibility age for Medicare, an idea he once was willing to consider in budget negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner. White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday said Obama "has made clear that we don't believe that that's the right policy to take" (2/11).

Reuters: Obama Rules Out Raising Medicare Eligibility Age To Cut Spending
Republicans in Congress, who have focused on cutting spending, have said they want to see the eligibility age raised to 67 from the current age of 65, but many Democrats have opposed the idea vehemently (Rampton, 2/11).

Fox News: White House Says 'No' To Raising Medicare Eligibility Age
The White House said definitively Monday it will not agree to increasing the eligibility age for Medicare as part of a deficit-reduction deal with congressional Republicans. Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested President Obama is willing to consider cuts to the entitlement program to reduce the deficit but said "no" to the White House increasing the minimum age. ... He said the president made clear last year in proposals -- from which House Speaker John Boehner "walked away" -- that he was open to entitlement reform options but not to changing the Medicare age (2/11).

Meanwhile, on the topic of the scheduled budget cuts, or sequestration, and who might feel a particular pinch --

California Healthline: Sequestration Would Hurt Rural Health Providers, Study Shows
Rural health care providers heard bleak predictions about the potential effects of sequestration at the National Rural Health Association's 24th annual Rural Health Policy Institute last week. If Medicare reimbursement is reduced by 2 percent as specified in the sequestration process due to start in three weeks, 63 rural hospitals will no longer be profitable and 482 rural health care jobs will be lost nationally, according to estimates by iVantage Health Analytics. California's rural hospitals won't be as hard-hit as those in the Midwest and South, according to the research, but all health care providers who treat Medicare beneficiaries will feel the pinch at some level, said Gregory Wolf of iVantage (Lauer, 2/11).

And, in the background --

The New York Times: Slower Growth Of Health Costs Eases U.S. Deficit
A sharp and surprisingly persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs is helping to narrow the federal deficit, leaving budget experts trying to figure out whether the trend will last and how much the slower growth could help alleviate the country's long-term fiscal problems (Lowrey, 2/11).

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