KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

GOP’s Ryan: Medicare ‘Premium Assistance,’ Medicaid Block Grants In 2012 Budget Proposal

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will unveil a budget proposal Tuesday which is expected to call for big changes to Medicaid and Medicare.

The New York Times: House Republicans Propose $4 Trillion In Cuts Over Decade
House Republicans plan this week to propose more than $4 trillion in federal spending reductions over the next decade by reshaping popular programs like Medicare (Hulse, 4/3).

Los Angeles Times: House Republican Budget Plan Would Revamp Medicare
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan's broad overview of the plan, which he described Sunday, is the clearest picture yet of how the party plans to reduce government spending over the long term. It also telegraphs the central role the issue will play in the GOP's pitch to voters in 2012 (Hennessy, 4/4).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Aim: Cut $4 Trillion
The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills. ... Medicare cost $396.5 billion in 2010 and is projected to rise to $502.8 billion in 2016. At that pace, spending on the program would have doubled between 2002 and 2016. Mr. Ryan's proposal would apply to those currently under the age of 55 ... Participants from that group would choose from an array of private insurance plans when they reach 65 and become eligible, and the government would pay about the first $15,000 in premiums (Bendavid, 4/4).

The Washington Post: GOP 2012: Overhauls On Entitlements And Taxes, $4T In Cuts Over Decade
"It doesn't go to the person, into the marketplace," Ryan said. "It goes to the plan. More for the poor, more for people who get sick, and we don't give as much money to people who are wealthy" (Rucker, 4/4).

(Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel: Ryan Set To Unveil GOP Budget With Huges Changes To Federal Programs 
Ryan said Monday that the GOP budget plan he unveils on Tuesday is an effort to "pre-empt a debt crisis" and "fix the problem before it gets out of control." ... Ryan's budget, a wholesale overhaul of government spending, tax and entitlement programs, is already sparking a furious partisan debate over the size and role of government (Gilbert, 4/4).

Bloomberg: Ryan's Budget Would Cut Medicare, Medicaid and Trim $4 Million 
Public opinion polls show that Americans want Congress to bring down the deficit, though without harming entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security or popular discretionary spending programs. The Congressional Budget Office says the entitlement programs will consume a steadily increasing share of government resources as the Baby Boom generation retires and health care costs rise. ... While Democrats denounce [the] changes as likely to provide less health care for senior citizens and the poor, many of Ryan's Republican colleagues want even bigger savings. Representative Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina said in an interview he wants Ryan's budget to cut the annual deficit from $1.4 trillion this year to less than $1 trillion in 2012 (Faier, 4/4).

Kaiser Health News: GOP Proposals On Medicare Could Shift Costs To Beneficiaries
Amid the buzz about a possible government shutdown over this year's budget looms a more difficult question: What to do about entitlement programs, especially Medicare? ... Republican leaders have called for a major overhaul of Medicare, a $520 billion program that covers nearly 47 million older and disabled Americans. Given the political peril involved in tampering with Medicare, the question is: How serious are the Republicans? The answer: Plenty serious (Carey, 4/3).

CNN: House Budget Chairman To Propose Medicare, Medicaid Changes
[Ryan] rejected the label of "vouchers" for the payments, calling them "premium assistance" payments instead. The plan is modeled after one Ryan proposed last year with Alice Rivlin, budget director under President Bill Clinton. The Ryan-Rivlin plan said the amount of assistance would be calculated in part by taking the average federal cost per Medicare enrollee (4/3).

The Fiscal Times: Shutdown Countdown: Congress Desperate For A Deal
[Ryan] favors converting Medicaid to a system of block grants to the states, so that the states can "customize" coverage for the poor. Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal government and the states, and many GOP governors are seeking ways to reduce their mounting cost burdens.  "We want to give governors freedom," he said (Pianin, 4/3).

Politico: Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicaid Gamble
Democrats, who cut Medicare subsidies to insurers to help offset the costs of the new health care law, are sure to hit Republicans for tinkering with the programs for the elderly and the poor. ... the poorest voters, those who receive Medicaid assistance, aren't up for grabs on Election Day. They heavily favor Democrats, as Obama proved when he won 73 percent of the votes cast by folks with family incomes of less than $15,000. On the other hand, Medicare and Social Security recipients come from all income levels and political backgrounds - meaning messing with their benefits is a tricky business (Allen, 4/4).

Modern Healthcare: House GOP Budget To Include Medicaid Block Grants, Medicare Changes 
The budget proposal will be released in the same week that federal lawmakers must agree on how to fund the government for the remaining six months of the year, or otherwise face a government shutdown, as the latest temporary funding mechanism ends on April 8. [Fox News' Chris] Wallace asked Ryan if he expects his ambitious 2012 plan to cut trillions of dollars from the national debt to be dead on arrival, given that legislators have had difficulty agreeing on billions in spending cuts for the rest of 2011 (4/3).

Fox News: GOP Budget Plan To Cut More Than $4 Trillion Over Decade, Rep. Paul Ryan Says
[ryan] accused Obama of "punting" and said Republicans' plan would exceed the fiscal goals set by the president's fiscal commission - which issued a report calling for $4 trillion in cuts. That report never made it out of committee. "We can't keep kicking this can down the road," Ryan said (4/3).

USA Today: Larger Debt Debate Looms On The Hill
Their efforts represent the most serious assault on federal deficits since a 1997 deal between President Clinton and a Republican Congress led to four years of surpluses. Since then, a decade of tax cuts, wars and recessions have sent the nation deeper and deeper into debt (Wolf, 4/4). 

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