First Edition: September 19, 2011

Today's headlines offer information about how Medicare and Medicaid will fare in President Barack Obama's deficit-reduction plan.

Kaiser Health News: Some States Seeking Health-Care Compact
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, and working in collaboration with The Washington Post, Guy Gugliotta writes: "State governors and legislators opposed to the federal health-care law are eyeing a novel approach to escape its provisions: joining an 'interstate compact' that would replace federal programs — including Medicare and Medicaid — with block grants to the states" (Gugliotta, 9/18).

Kaiser Health News: HHS Pushes State Partnerships For Insurance Exchanges
Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini, working in collaboration with McClatchy, reports: "The federal government is worried that dozens of states may opt out of running these insurance marketplaces and leave that job for Washington" (Werber Serafini, 9/19).

Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend health policy headlines, including reports about the Obama deficit plan and how health benefits fit into the UAW's pact with GM.

The Washington Post: Obama’s Debt-Reduction Plan: $3 Trillion In Savings, Half From New Tax Revenue
But the president won't call for any changes in Social Security, officials say, and is seeking less-aggressive changes to Medicare and Medicaid than previously considered. He will propose $320 billion in health-care savings but will not include raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, officials said. Any reduction in Medicare benefits would not begin until 2017, they said. Other cuts in domestic spending would bring the total spending savings to $580 billion. About $1 trillion in savings is also expected from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Goldfarb, 9/18).

The New York Times: Obama Plan To Cut Deficit Will Trim Spending By $3 Trillion
President Obama will unveil a deficit-reduction plan on Monday that uses entitlement cuts, tax increases and war savings to reduce government spending by more than $3 trillion over the next 10 years, administration officials said (Cooper, 9/18).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Deficit Plan Includes Raising $1.5 Trillion From Tax Overhaul
President Obama on Monday will put forward a plan to slash more than $3 trillion from the nation's deficits by winding down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, raising taxes on wealthier Americans, closing tax loopholes, and cutting the cost of Medicare and other government health programs, senior White House officials said. Obama, who is to lay out his proposal in a Rose Garden speech at 10:30 a.m., will also issue a specific warning to congressional Republicans: If they pass a bill that cuts programs for poor and elderly Americans without asking profitable corporations and others to sacrifice, he will veto it (Nicholas, 9/18).

The Wall Street Journal: New Obama Deficit Plan
The president will also propose changes to Medicare and Medicaid that would reduce the deficit by about $300 billion over 10 years. He won't propose increasing the Medicare eligibility age, people familiar with the plan said, and won't include changes to Social Security. … A senior administration official also said Mr. Obama will make clear that he will veto any bill that makes changes to Medicare without tax increases on the wealthy. … The plan, which Mr. Obama will unveil Monday in remarks at the White House, will be submitted to a congressional supercommittee that was created to craft a deficit-reduction plan of at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The committee's efforts follow on the more than $900 billion in spending cuts that were part of a deal Mr. Obama made with congressional Republicans in August (Lee and Paletta, 9/19).

The Associated Press/NPR: Obama To Propose $1.5 Trillion In New Tax Revenue
Drawing a bright line with congressional Republicans, President Barack Obama is proposing $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue as part of his long-term deficit reduction plan, according to senior administration officials (Kuhnhenn, 9/18).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: AP Enterprise: GOP Candidates Campaign Against 'Obamacare' But Won't Touch Medicare Drug Plan
Republicans want to pull the plug on the health care overhaul they call "Obamacare," blaming it in part for the United States' ballooning budget deficit. But they’re quiet when it comes to the Medicare drug benefit — another massive health care entitlement, with unfunded future costs over $7 trillion (9/19).

Politico: Barack Obama To Unveil $3 Trillion Deficit-Cutting Plan
President Barack Obama will release a plan Monday to cut the federal deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade, drawing half the savings from new tax revenue and sparing Medicare recipients from having to wait longer to collect benefits, senior administration officials said Sunday (Budoff Brown and Epstein, 9/18).

USA Today: Obama To Pitch $3 Trillion More In Deficit Cuts
The deficit-reduction plan to be submitted to a special congressional committee would cut $1.5 trillion through tax increases; $1.1 trillion through winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; $580 billion from reductions in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid; and $430 billion from reduced interest costs (Jackson, 9/18).

Politico: Bundlers On Target In Deficit Supercommittee
Over the past year, more than two dozen of these "bundlers" — companies and lobbyists who cut big checks and pile up scores of smaller donations — have directed $1.6 million to several members of the supercommittee and the House and Senate campaign arms, according to federal records. What makes these bundlers stand out above other lobbyists in Washington is the sheer size of their donations — bolstering their influence over the most critical issues before the supercommittee, including defense, health care and taxes (Palmer and Raju, 9/18).

The New York Times: Political Memo: Republican Calls For A More Honest Debate
Four months after he decided against jumping into the Republican presidential race, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana says that he has occasionally been frustrated by the discourse in the campaign and that the field could benefit from at least one more contender whose candidacy was rooted in a message of fiscal discipline (Zeleny, 9/18).

The New York Times: Retiree Benefits For The Military Could Face Cuts
As Washington looks to squeeze savings from once-sacrosanct entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, another big social welfare system is growing as rapidly, but with far less scrutiny: the health and pension benefits of military retirees (Dao and Walsh, 9/18).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Law Puts Cigna In Ad Mode
Cigna Corp. is starting a national ad campaign Monday crafted to appeal to individual consumers, a sign of the industry's growing focus on a segment that is set to expand substantially under the health-overhaul law (Mathews, 9/19).

The New York Times: Responding Before A Call Is Needed
Emergency medicine carries a deep aura of romance in America, with its first-responder traditions of adrenaline, acuity and bravery. But here in this rural mountain area of the West, and in a handful of other places around the nation, a new vision is gaining ground — that emergency workers should not wait around for crises to happen, but rather go out and prevent them (Johnson, 9/18).

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