No Agreement On Health Cost Containment At Bipartisan Commission

The Obama administration's bipartisan commission studying efforts to reduce the nation's debt remained at odds - after three days of closed door meetings - on how to deal with health care costs.

Debt Panel Convenes, Still Lacks Consensus
The bipartisan commission examining how to cut the federal debt ended three days of closed-door meetings Thursday without a firm agreement among its 18 members, with several saying the panel was still at odds over how to contain the ballooning costs of health care. "The most difficult thing to deal with is the health-care accounts," Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) said after emerging from a 90-minute meeting. "That is the 800-pound gorilla in the room" (Paletta and Adamy, The Wall Street Journal, 11/19).

Obama Deficit Panel Wrestles Healthcare 'Gorilla'
A proposal to overhaul the costly Medicare and Medicaid health programs met opposition on Thursday in a closed-door meeting of a presidential commission looking for ways to balance the U.S. budget. As private groups studying the problem of the federal deficit unleashed a wave of alternative plans, President Barack Obama's commission convened again on Capitol Hill with just 12 days left before it must issue a final report (Drawbaugh, Reuters, 11/18).

New Debt-Reduction Suggestions More Appealing To Hospitals
A week after the chairmen of President Barack Obama's bipartisan fiscal commission released a controversial proposal to lower the nation's debt, another debt-reduction task force issued its own recommendations which received a little more support from America's hospitals. The 140-page report from the Bipartisan Policy Center's debt-reduction task force aims to reduce and stabilize the federal debt below 60% of the nation's gross domestic product by 2020 and balance the primary budget (the budget other than interest) by 2014. It also proposes to achieve $756 billion in healthcare costs, excluding interest, by that same year (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 11/18).

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