KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

President Lashes Out At GOP Budget, Medicare Plan

In a Tuesday speech billed by many as a preview of the Obama reelection campaign's favorite themes, President Barack Obama blasted the treatment of Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs by the Republicans and warned that their spending blueprint is a form of "Social Darwinism."  

The Fiscal Times: Obama Comes Out Firing in Campaign Kickoff Speech
Beyond the immediate budget politics in Washington, the speech, likely written by the David Axelrod-run campaign operation in Chicago, offered a major preview of the themes the president will offer on the campaign trail ... "We're told that Medicaid would simply be handed over to the states [that] can experiment. But here's the deal the states would be getting. They would have to be running these programs in the face of the largest cut to Medicaid that has ever been proposed—a cut that, according to one nonpartisan group, would take away health care for about 19 million Americans" (Goozner, 4/3). 

Medscape: Obama Calls GOP Budget, Medicare Plan a 'Radical Vision'
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the GOP plan would gradually shrink annual budget deficits and put the federal government back in the black by 2040. ... Much of the GOP’s deficit reduction is achieved by partially privatizing Medicare. ... The president also predicted that private insurers would cherry-pick younger, healthier seniors, leaving older, sicker ones in traditional Medicare. Because traditional Medicare would offer more generous benefits, its premiums would need to increase due to adverse selection, making it less affordable (Lowes, 4/3). 

CQ HealthBeat: Obama Blasts Medicare, Medicaid Elements Of House GOP Budget
President Obama maintained Tuesday that the House Republican budget would "ultimately end Medicare as we know it" and that it includes the largest cut ever to Medicaid. In a seething election year speech, Obama went after the Republican budget and restated Democratic opposition to the Medicare proposal engineered by House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis (Bunis, 4/3).

Politico Pro: Health At Center Of Obama Economic Vision
President Barack Obama on Tuesday sought to draw bright and clear differences between his vision for the country and the Republicans' — and health care and entitlements were among the brightest. Addressing the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Obama devoted nearly a third of his speech on the economy to health. He attacked the polarized political climate that has endangered his health care overhaul law and he bashed the policy behind the House GOP budget's treatment of Medicare and Medicaid. And he reminded his audience that the health care law affects the lives of millions of Americans, many of whom now lack affordable insurance (DoBias, 4/3).

The Hill: Obama Sticks With Charge That Ryan Plan Would 'End Medicare'
President Obama made clear Tuesday that he's not about to soften his criticism of Republicans' Medicare proposals, charging again that the GOP plan would "end Medicare as we know it." Obama also referred to the GOP's Medicare proposal as a "voucher" system — another characterization that Republicans insist is inaccurate. The plan, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would convert some federal Medicare funding into subsidies for private insurance. Seniors would choose between the traditional program and subsidized private coverage (Baker, 4/3).

Kaiser Health News: Video: Obama Blasts GOP Medicare, Medicaid Plans
This Kaiser Health News video features clips from a speech given yesterday by President Barack Obama in which he attacked the Republican 2013 budget as a "Trojan horse" and "thinly veiled social Darwinism."  Speaking in Washington to an association of newspaper editors, Obama not only attacked Republican budget proposals, but in response to a question, he also laid out a defense of the 2010 health law and why he thinks the Supreme Court will uphold the law as constitutional (4/3).

The New York Times: Obama, In Talk, Calls House GOP Budget The Work Of Rightist Radicals
President Obama opened a full-frontal assault on Tuesday on the federal budget adopted by House Republicans, condemning it as a "Trojan horse" that would greatly deepen inequality in the United States, and painting it as the manifesto of a party that has swung radically to the right. … Singling out Medicare, the president asserted that the Republican plan to shift people to a system of vouchers would drive up the cost of health care for the elderly, since private insurance companies would target the youngest and healthiest people and leave the rest to rely on Medicare (Landler, 4/3).

The Washington Post: Obama: GOP Budget Plan Would Create Form Of 'Social Darwinism'
President Obama delivered a stern and stinging rebuke of the Republican vision for the country Tuesday, castigating the GOP as a "radical" party that has strayed so far from the political middle that its policies represent an affront to core American values. … Obama said the House Republican budget plan, which has been endorsed by Romney and would slash entitlements and agency spending, is "so far to the right" on the political spectrum that it makes the Republicans’ 1994 Contract With America "look like the New Deal" (Nakamura, 4/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Blasts GOP Budget As 'Trojan Horse'
For the first time the president singled out Mr. Romney by name, unprompted, to highlight the former Massachusetts governor's support for the GOP budget. He even poked fun at Mr. Romney, whom the Obama campaign has cast as out of touch with average Americans, for describing the GOP budget as "marvelous." … The GOP budget proposes, among other things, turning Medicaid into a block-grant program controlled by the states, restructuring Medicare and reducing the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25% from 35%. The Republican plan also calls for deep spending cuts (Lee, 4/3).

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: Obama's Attack On The GOP Budget
With President Obama's speech before the Associated Press on Tuesday, one can say the 2012 presidential contest has begun in earnest. For the moment, we will ignore some of his stylistic bloopers — "the Republicans running Congress right now" ignores the fact that the Senate is still in Democratic hands — and instead concentrate on how the White House backs up some of his claims about the House Republican budget. As usual, we will not judge the politics of the speech — just the facts. We will also delve more deeply in other parts of the speech, such as the Medicare portion, later in the week (Kessler, 4/4).

Market Watch: Obama Likens Republican Budget To Trojan Horse
President Barack Obama on Tuesday took aim at the budget passed by House Republicans, saying spending cuts are too deep and would eliminate needed investment... He also said the program would make Medicare more risky for seniors. Referring to when Ryan’s voucher proposal starts in a decade’s time, he said seniors run the risk that they will have to pay out of their own pockets for medical care if health-care costs continue to outstrip the amount of the voucher (Goldstein, 4/3).

Reuters: Obama Assails Republican Budget Plan, Aims At Romney
President Barack Obama accused Republicans on Tuesday of favoring the rich with a "radical" budget plan that focuses on cutting popular programs, which the White House sees as a potent vote winner for Democrats in this year's election... "It is a bad idea and it will ultimately end Medicare as we know it," Obama said, tapping into fears of what might happen to the federal healthcare plan for the elderly which Democrats will play up in the election (Bull, 4/3).

Roll Call: Barack Obama Blames GOP For Gridlock Slams House Budget
President Barack Obama dished out partisan red meat today, blaming a GOP shift to the right for the gridlock in Washington, D.C., and warning that Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan would decimate important government programs. In a speech to a conference of newspaper editors in Washington, Obama pitched the contrasting economic visions as the defining issue of the elections — whether the nation will double-down on tax cuts for the wealthy or continue investing in education, health care and other programs…Obama noted that cap-and-trade started as a Republican idea, as did the individual mandate for health care (Dennis, 4/3).

Politico: Obama's Fighting Words On The Ryan Budget
President Barack Obama's back in campaign mode. And this time, it's personal. On Tuesday, he called House Republicans' budget a "Trojan horse" for "Social Darwinism" that is "so far to the right, it makes the Contract With America look like the New Deal." He also mocked Mitt Romney for calling that budget "marvelous," a word "you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget … a word you don't often hear, generally." The shots at his Republican adversaries followed a more subtle — but no less pointed — admonition Monday to the Supreme Court not to cross him by striking down all or part of his cherished overhaul of the nation's health care system (Allen, Budoff Brown, 4/3).

Boston Globe: Obama Criticizes GOP Budget, Calls Romney Out
President Obama eviscerated the Republicans’ budget proposal Tuesday, calling it a radical blueprint that bolsters the rich and decimates the middle class, and he leveled criticism at Mitt Romney, his probable Republican opponent in the fall, for the first time in a speech... Obama’s address carried the tenor and themes of a campaign speech, with the president seeking to paint himself as savior of the middle class and guardian of popular entitlement programs such as Medicare, while portraying Republicans as Wall Street protectors who look out only for the wealthy (Jan, 4/3).

In related news -

Kaiser Health News: Revamping Medicare: A Guide To The Proposals, Politics And Timeline
Congress is unlikely to consider legislation that would fundamentally restructure Medicare until a new Congress -- and possibly a new president -- are seated in 2013. But politicians have sought to tackle the growth in Medicare costs several times in the past two years, most notably in the 2010 health care law and, then again, in last year's budget deal (Werber Serafini, 4/3).

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