Senate Leaders Seek Compromise On 'Fiscal Cliff' Impasse

The Washington Post: Agreement Within Reach On 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal, Officials Say
President Obama and Senate leaders were on the verge of an agreement Friday that would let taxes rise on the wealthiest households while protecting the vast majority of Americans from historic tax hikes set to hit in January. ... According to people briefed on the talks, the developing package would protect nearly 30 million taxpayers from paying the alternative minimum tax for the first time and keep unemployment benefits flowing to 2 million people who otherwise would be cut off in January. The deal also would likely halt a steep cut in Medicare reimbursements set to hit doctors in January and preserve popular tax breaks for both businesses and individuals, such as those for research and college tuition (Montgomery and Kane, 12/28). 

The New York Times: Senate Leaders Set To Work On A Last-Minute Tax Agreement
Despite the new optimism, it was clear that any deal in the next three days would only alleviate the worst aspects of the “fiscal cliff” while leaving big decisions on taxes and spending to the next showdown, most likely by February when Congress must raise the government’s debt limit (Weisman and Steinhauer, 12/28). 

The Wall Street Journal: Cliff Deal Hinges On Senators
It remains uncertain whether a bipartisan agreement can be reached. If there is a Reid-McConnell deal, officials said, it would probably include these elements: an extension of current income-tax rates for most Americans; a measure to block a scheduled expansion of the alternative minimum tax; an extension of unemployment benefits and possibly a measure to prevent a scheduled cut in Medicare payments to doctors (Hook and Lee, 12/28). 

The Hill: Reid And McConnell Work To Reach 'Fiscal-Cliff' Agreement By Sunday
Senate Democrats say the default proposal to prevent tax hikes is one that would extend the Bush-era tax rates, extend unemployment insurance and create a framework for deficit-reduction legislation in the next Congress (Bolton, 12/28).

The Hill: Eyeing Debt Ceiling, Corker, Alexander Offer Entitlement-Reform Plan
Two centrist Republican senators on Friday introduced a plan to reduce the growth of entitlement spending by nearly $1 trillion in exchange for an equal increase to the federal debt ceiling. Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) called on Congress to focus on entitlement reform after it addresses the impending expiration of the Bush-era tax rates. They identified the expiration of the federal debt ceiling as an opportunity to address the costly growth of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (Bolton, 12/28).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.