'Super Committee' Scrutiny Of Medicare, Other Entitlements Expected To Be Very Tough

This week Congress begins new deficit-reduction talks and also has less than a month to finish spending bills or risk a government shutdown.

Los Angeles Times: Congress Returns, And So Does The Partisan Budget War
Republicans and President Obama are bracing for a new round in the budget battles that have rattled Washington all year and, at their heart, pose a simple question: What kind of government do Americans want? ... Revenues simply do not cover the costs of running Medicare, defense and all the other programs Americans have come to expect from Washington. Something has to give (Mascaro and Parsons, 9/5).

National Journal: 'Super Committee' to Hold First Organizational Meeting on Thursday
The heads of the joint select committee charged with identifying $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts over 10 years announced Friday that they will hold a public organizational hearing on Thursday, followed by their first public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 13 (House and Friedman, 9/3).

Politico Pro: The Super Committee Health Care Odds List
The following is a list of 10 savings targets that have been getting the most discussion leading up to the start of the talks.  ... 1) CLASS Act repeal. There’s little debate that the government-run, long-term care insurance program is on shaky ground. ...  2) "Fixing" Medicare physician payments. It may seem counterintuitive at first blush to include a provision that actually costs money rather than saves it. But when you unwind the complexities behind the misguided Medicare payment formula, the odds start to look better (Dobias, 9/6).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: What The 'Super Committee' Might Mean For Medicare
On KHN’s news blog, Mary Agnes Carey reports  that a new brief outlines how the super committee's deliberations, "expected to start soon after Congress returns ... from its August recess, could have sweeping implications for government health programs, including Medicare, which covers 48 million elderly and disabled Americans." Check out what else is on the blog.

CNN Money: National Debt: Why Entitlement Spending Must Be Reined In
If no changes are made, future retirees' benefits could be cut abruptly. The longer policymakers wait to reduce growth in entitlement spending, the harsher changes will be once the funding shortfalls hit full force. And that means future retirees won't have enough time to plan for the change. The number of people using Medicare is growing quickly. And the number of workers paying taxes into the system is declining (Sahadi, 9/5).

Politico: Battleground Poll: Obama Approval Rating Down Amid Deep Economic Fears
Congressional Republicans have also seen an erosion of trust since May in their handling of health care and Social Security, perhaps a reflection of the controversy surrounding the House Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget and overall push by the party to overhaul entitlement programs. But for congressional Democrats, fewer voters than a year ago trust them to turn around the economy and create jobs (Budoff Brown, 9/6).

The Associated Press: Congress Returns Amid Sour Mood Over Slow Economy
Also looming is the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, when Congress is supposed to have completed the 12 appropriation bills to fund federal agencies for the coming fiscal year 2012. So far the House has passed only half of those bills, and the Senate only one, and as in past years they will have to agree on temporary stopgap extensions to avoid a partial government shutdown (Abrams, 9/5).

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