The Wall Street Journal: An Entitlement Reform Guide
President Obama has said he wants to reform entitlements eventually, someday, after Republicans raise taxes. Republicans want the President to sign on to serious reform now as part of any deal, since AARP and the left will kill anything that isn't passed immediately. Given the political difficulty of reforming entitlements, Republicans are right to try to get Mr. Obama's fingerprints on such a deal this year (12/2).
The Washington Post: An Achievable Solution To Getting Off The 'Cliff'
It is legitimate for the president to hold out for as high a revenue target as possible. But that will also require him to proffer more in the way of entitlement reforms than many in his party will be happy to accept. ... During his negotiations with Mr. Boehner, the president also agreed to increase the eligibility age for Medicare beneficiaries from 65 to 67 and to change the way Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, as well as other programs, are calculated. If these offers are no longer on the table, Mr. Obama should explain why and come up with cost-saving alternatives (11/30).
The New York Times: The Full McConnell
In his interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mitch McConnell finally mentioned a few sort-of specifics about what spending cuts the GOP wants: raising the Medicare age, charging higher premiums to affluent Medicare recipients, and changing the price indexing of Social Security. But how much does all this amount to? ... So, if we take all of McConnell’s ideas together, we get a bit more than $300 billion. ... This is pathetic – and these people are definitely not serious (Paul Krugman, 12/2).
The Washington Post: Who’s Not Bargaining In Good Faith?
Supporting retirees is now the federal government’s main activity. There’s a huge redistribution from young to old — a redistribution that will be made worse if retiree programs are largely excluded from deficit reduction. ... [In fiscal 2012] $469 billion for Medicare (insurance for the 65 and over population) and $251 billion for Medicaid (insurance for the poor — two-thirds goes for long-term care for the aged and disabled) (Robert J. Samuelson, 12/2).
The Washington Post: Why Sane Bargaining Looks Strange
An entirely new political narrative is taking shape before our eyes, yet many in Washington are still stuck in the old one. President Obama’s victory blew up the framework created by the 2010 elections, which forced him to play defense. Now, he finally has room to move. … Republicans claim they are fighting for cuts in entitlement programs, particularly Medicare. ... So far, all we have are words. Obama has outlined $400 billion in savings from Medicare. If this isn’t enough, the GOP’s negotiators should tell us how to find more (E.J. Dionne Jr., 12/2).
Los Angeles Times: Cut Medicare and Social Security? What's the rush?
Because economic projections for a year or two from now, let alone 20 or 70 years, are useless, it's best to resist being pressured to act now on 'entitlements' (Michael Hiltzik, 12/1).
The Wall Street Journal: Time To Call The President’s Budget Bluff
Flush with the adrenaline rush of his election victory, President Obama insists that Congress must now agree not only to raise taxes on the "rich," but also to adopt his previously ignored full budget. ... He says that he will consider Medicare cuts and tax reform in the future, maybe. On the other hand, Mr. Obama says reductions in ObamaCare spending are out of the question, and Congress must now agree to at least $50 billion in new stimulus spending next year (Keith Hennessey, 12/2).
The Wall Street Journal: The Crisis of American Self-Government
Harvey Mansfield, Harvard's 'pet dissenter,' on the 2012 election, the real cost of entitlements, and why he sees reason for hope ... The welfare state's size isn't what makes it so stifling, Mr. Mansfield says. "What makes government dangerous to the common good is guaranteed entitlements, so that you can never question what expenses have been or will be incurred" (Sohrab Amari, 11/30).
The Washington Post: Saving Taxpayer Money On Tricare
We refer to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s refusal to accept an administration proposal to trim Tricare, the military health-care program for which 9.7 million active and retired military personnel and family members are eligible. Obviously, those who serve or served their country deserve generous health benefits. But Tricare goes well beyond that (12/2).
The New York Times: Promises On AIDS Are Not Enough
Experts know how to control the global spread of the AIDS virus. What’s missing is enough money and political will to apply proven tactics widely enough to change the course of the epidemic (12/2).
McClatchy: Don’t Cut HIV/AIDS Budget
Seven people — three women and four men — thought it was necessary to remove all their clothing and stand before cameras and strangers in U.S. House Speaker John Boehner's office Tuesday to bring attention to potential cuts to HIV/AIDS funding and other federal programs. They obviously thought their radical actions were needed to show Boehner and other politicians that when budgets are sliced, people are hurt (Marlene Davis, 12/2).
The Washington Post: In The VA System, The Future Of Primary Health Care
My first patient in medical school was a 25-year-old Iraq war vet from a small farming town in Idaho. ... I had 30 minutes with him, and my attending physician had just 15. We were already running late. But my attending calmly introduced our team’s social worker and psychologist. ... This multifaceted and coordinated approach to treatment — all of it at minimal or no cost for veterans at the VA — is rarely practiced in other American hospitals and clinics (Dr. Yogesh Khanal, 12/1).
Los Angeles Times: Keeping California's Kids Healthy
In a bid to cut the state's healthcare bills, the Brown administration will begin shuttering the Healthy Families insurance program for low-income children on Jan. 1. More than 850,000 kids will be shifted over the course of the year into HMOs that participate in Medi-Cal, California's version of the federally subsidized Medicaid program. It may be too late now for the Legislature to rescue Healthy Families from its untimely and potentially disruptive end, even though lawmakers are heading to Sacramento on Monday to begin a special session devoted to healthcare issues. But state lawmakers and federal Medicaid officials should do as much as they can to ensure that these children's parents won't be left scrambling (12/2).
The Arizona Republic: A Good Health-Care Idea
The recession and cuts in state health-care coverage for the poor have been hard on Arizona's hospitals. Unlike any other business, they are required to offer services even when there is no realistic expectation of being paid. They can't say no. And they shouldn't. ... Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has come up with an answer to this dilemma (12/1).
Roll Call: A Stark Perspective On 40-Year Career
Everyone in Washington has an opinion on Rep. Pete Stark. The California Democrat’s penchant for speaking his mind — at times when things were better left unsaid — has earned him quite a reputation. In the end, it may have been part of what led to his defeat, but it is also something that will be sorely missed on Capitol Hill. ... Serving as either chairman or ranking member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee since 1985, his mark on health policy — especially Medicare — can’t be overstated (Debbie Curtis, 12/2).
CNN: The $70 Childbirth Bill
According to a 2011 report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the cost for a hospital stay, including physician fees, for a conventional birth with no complications was a little over $11,000 in 2008, the most recent year the report covered. ... So what exactly has happened, for costs to rise so astronomically? ... The technology available to keep mothers and babies safe is light years removed from what was available in 1947, [Dr. Gary Hankins of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston] said, and "regrettably, the technology is expensive" (Bob Greene, 12/3).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: A Timely Proposal On Birth Control
But it's long past time to seriously consider how greater availability of this effective contraceptive might reduce the nation's high rate of unintended pregnancies -- a rate that hasn't budged in two decades, according to the college. The annual cost of unplanned pregnancies to taxpayers? About $11.1 billion annually (12/2).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: A Comprehensive Solution To Mental Illness Is Needed
It is clear that we need to do a better job when anyone who needs treatment in a mental-health facility is languishing in a jail cell. The answer is not, however, simply building more psychiatric hospital beds. We need to help move people effectively through the entire system of care -- a system currently fraught with potential obstacles (Lucinda Jesson, 12/2).