Health Law Part Of Budget Machinations Taking Place On Both Sides Of The Capitol

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., is rolling out the final budget blueprint of his career. It takes a different position on the health law than the House GOP's measure.

The New York Times: Senate Budget Panel To Take Up Deficit Plan
Unlike the budget plan passed in the House, Mr. Conrad's outline would not touch the president's health care law, but it would phase out the employer tax deduction for health care and include additional health care cuts (Weisman, 4/17).

Politico: Kent Conrad's Budget Signals What's Wrong With Congress
The ideological divide in Congress has stymied [Copnrad's] centrist instincts: Republicans refuse to put tax hikes on the table, and Conrad's fellow Democrats decry any changes to entitlements, like Medicare and Social Security (Wong, 4/18).

Politico Pro: Conrad: Simpson-Bowles Plan Is Bid For Eventual Consensus
The Senate's top budget guru on Tuesday said he's introducing the so-called "Simpson-Bowles" deficit report with hopes of building a bipartisan consensus before the end of the year. ... [The Simpson-Bowles plan includes] cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries, cuts to Medicare providers, new policy for so-called "dual eligibles" in Medicare and Medicaid and a long-term "doc fix" (Haberkorn, 4/17).

Meanwhile, on the House side, there's more budget action as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., defended his plan's treatment of the safety net.

Los Angeles Times: Republicans Approve Paul Ryan's Budget (Again) In The House
GOP leaders are advancing the House Republican budget and its proposed changes to Medicare despite opposition in the Democratic-led Senate by using used a relatively obscure procedural move -- tucking it alongside an unrelated bill that would allow the importation of trophy polar bears (Mascaro, 4/17).

The Associated Press: Food Stamps, Federal Pensions Face GOP Cuts
Republicans controlling the House are targeting food stamps, federal employee pensions, tax breaks for illegal immigrants and subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care law in a multifaceted drive to swap cuts to domestic programs for big Pentagon cuts scheduled next year (Taylor, 4/18).

CQ HealthBeat: Welfare Overhaul Points The Way For New Changes To Safety Net, Ryan Says
Rejecting President Obama’s recent charge that his budget plan amounts to "social Darwinism," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan said at a hearing on Tuesday that the welfare system overhaul of the 1990s demonstrates that new changes to the safety net need not harm poor people. Ryan said that his House-passed budget, which would convert Medicaid into a block grant program, "treats all Americans with respect and dignity" (Reichard, 4/17).

Modern Healthcare: Ryan Defends Budget At Safety Net Hearing
But in his opening remarks, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said work incentives that led to welfare reform in 1996 are not relevant to Medicaid in particular. “First, it is a program that provides healthcare coverage to those left behind by the private insurance market,” Van Hollen said. “Second, two-thirds, or 66%, of Medicaid spending is for senior citizens and people too disabled to work, while another 20% is for children" (Zigmond, 4/17).

The Hill: House Panel To Save $43.9 Billion On Health Law Subsidies
The tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee will mark up legislation on Wednesday that saves $43.9 billion over a decade by requiring people to pay back any excess insurance subsidies they receive under President Obama's healthcare reform law, the panel announced Tuesday. ... [Under the Ryan budget] the committee is instructed to identify policies that cut the deficit by $53 billion between 2013 and 2022. Most of those savings would come from requiring people to pay back insurance subsidies if the government determined they received too much based on their income threshold (Pecquet, 4/17).

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