KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: April 14, 2011

Today's headlines include examinations of how President Obama's deficit plan would handle health care spending.

Kaiser Health News: Obama's Deficit Plan: A 'Nuanced Approach' Or 'So Partisan'
Kaiser Health News staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Shefali Kulkarni report: "As President Barack Obama presented his vision for deficit reduction Wednesday, he took an evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach, saying he wanted to work with Congress to preserve the current structure of Medicare and Medicaid but make the programs more efficient. The reaction to Obama's remarks fell predictably along partisan lines" (Carey and Kulkarni, 4/13).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill – Obama Hits Back At GOP Deficit Plan On Medicare, Medicaid
KHN's Mary Agnes Carey and Marilyn Werber Serafini talk with Jackie Judd about President Obama's Wednesday speech outlining his details for reducing the deficit and hitting back at a Republican deficit plan (4/13). Read the transcript.

Kaiser Health News: Video Excerpts Of President Barack Obama On Health Care And The Deficit
Kaiser Health News provides video excerpts of yesterday's major speech at George Washington University in which President Barack Obama laid out a framework for controlling the deficit (4/13). KHN also has details of the health care policies from the plan – based on a White House fact sheet; and highlights from the text of the speech

The Washington Post: Obama Announces Framework For Cutting Deficit By $4 Trillion Over 12 Years
In a stinging rebuke to Republican budget-cutters, Obama acknowledged that the debt must be tackled faster than he has previously proposed, but he rejected GOP calls to make fundamental changes to Medicare and Medicaid and to scale back his initiative to expand health-care coverage to the uninsured (Montgomery and Goldfarb, 4/13).

The New York Times: Obama's Debt Plan Sets Stage For Long Battle Over Spending
Mr. Obama said his proposal would cut federal budget deficits by a cumulative $4 trillion over 12 years, compared with a deficit reduction of $4.4 trillion over 10 years in the Republican plan. But the president said he would use starkly different means, rejecting the fundamental changes to Medicare and Medicaid proposed by Republicans and relying in part on tax increases on affluent Americans (Landler and Shear, 4/13).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Lays Out Deficit Reduction Plan
 President Obama vigorously defended government's responsibility for the nation's most vulnerable citizens and castigated Republican plans to "end Medicare as we know it" as he moved to shape the burgeoning national debate over the federal deficit with his own mix of tax increases and spending cuts (Nicholas and Levey, 4/13).

NPR: Taxes, Entitlements: Sticking Points In Deficit Debate
The budget plans put forward by President Obama and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) both set a goal of about $4 trillion in deficit reduction, but Ryan would get his in 10 years - two years sooner than the president. The biggest differences between the two plans are their treatment of taxes, and Medicare and Medicaid (Ydstie, 4/14).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Stokes Deficit Fight
The speech, which appeared to leave Republican leaders furious, was Mr. Obama's most substantive step into the debate over the nation's fiscal future, an issue that both parties say is a matter of national security and which is likely to dominate the 2012 elections. Mr. Obama called for Congress to cut deficits by $4 trillion over 12 years and commit to automatic, across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases if an initial target is not met by 2014. While they engaged in sharp public exchanges on taxes, Medicare and other programs, however, top Democrats and Republicans also agreed to work behind the scenes on a short-term fiscal priority: putting together a general deficit-reduction framework that would clear the way for raising the limit on how much the federal government can borrow (Lee and Paletta, 4/14).

The Washington Post: Obama Proposes Tighter Curbs On Health-Care Spending
President Obama proposed Wednesday tighter curbs on Medicare spending and a new way of sharing Medicaid and children's health-care costs with states as he laid out a path to rein in the entitlement programs that pose the single largest threat to the nation's fiscal future (Goldstein, 4/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Seeks Medicare Savings, Rejects GOP Plan
President Barack Obama on Wednesday outlined a plan to cut $480 billion by 2023 from the U.S. government's health-care programs for the elderly and poor, drawing a sharp line of disagreement with House Republican leaders over how to rein in the burgeoning costs of medical care (Adamy, 4/13).

USA Today: Medicare At Center Of Budget Debate
In the debate over deficits that is likely to dominate the capital for the next year, there are a few signs of common ground between President Obama and emboldened Republicans as each side tries to trim trillions of dollars from the federal budget. But not on Medicare (Page, 4/14).

NPR Shots Blog: Obama Wants Medicare To Flex Muscle For Lower Drug Costs
Medicare, the health program for the elderly, is a big target for budget-cutters in both parties. The Republican vision, as articulated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), would privatize and subsidize coverage for Americans now younger than 55. Obama has different ideas. He rejected Ryan's approach and would keep Medicare fully part of the federal government. … Basically, Obama would take steps to reduce the costs of the Medicare rather than transform it. A prime target: drug spending (Hensley, 4/14).

Los Angeles Times: Boehner On Board With Ryan's Medicare Plan
Even as President Obama laid out his own deficit reduction plan Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner was forging ahead with plans for his caucus to vote on Rep. Paul Ryan's sweeping blueprint to radically reshape Medicare and Medicaid-and he offered unswerving support for the proposal (James Oliphant and Kathleen Hennessey, 4/13).

The Associated Press: Congress Voting Thursday On Budget-Cutting Plan
Lawmakers were to vote Thursday on a long-overdue spending measure funding the day-to-day budgets of federal agencies through September. Later in the day, Republicans dominating the House will launch debate on a 2012-and-beyond plan that promises to cut the long-term budget blueprint Obama laid out in February by more than $6 trillion (Taylor, 4/14).

The New York Times: As Spending Plan Details Emerge, So Does Dissent
House Republican leaders sought on Wednesday to contain growing conservative opposition to the new 2011 spending deal as the House prepared for contentious back-to-back votes on budget measures. … The resistance to the spending measure came after reviews of the proposal found that some significant cuts, including some involving health care, are not expected to produce real savings. This is because the money was not likely to be spent for years though it can be counted as a current reduction under budget rules (Hulse, 4/13).

Politico: CBO: Small 2011 Payoff From Big Cuts
On the eve of Thursday's House vote, new cost estimates of the White House-Republican budget deal are a double-edged sword for GOP leaders: confirming historic cuts but projecting the immediate deficit impact this year at less than a half billion dollars (Rogers, 4/13).

USA Today: Health Care Law Gets Day In Court
Legal challenges to the sweeping federal health care overhaul backed by the Obama administration are heading toward the Supreme Court, where the justices who would decide the law's fate could have as much at stake as the parties battling over it. … The first signal from the justices may come as soon as this month, when they decide whether to put the health care dispute on a fast track (Biskupic, 4/14).

The Associated Press: Dems Form Campaign To Defend Health Care Overhaul
Democrats looking to defend President Barack Obama's massive health care overhaul are announcing an effort to highlight what they say are the benefits of the law and to lobby Congress to defend it (4/14).

The New York Times: Study Finds Drop In Deadly V.A. Hospital Infections
An aggressive four-year effort to reduce the spread of deadly bacterial infections at veterans' hospitals is showing impressive results and may have broad implications at medical centers across the country, according to the first comprehensive assessment of the program, which was released Wednesday afternoon (Sack, 4/13).

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