Treasury Pick Says He Will Work To Reduce Medicare Spending, But Offers Few Specifics

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's references in his State of the Union address to modest changes to Medicare continue to generate examination.

The Wall Street Journal: Treasury Pick Focuses On Taxes, Spending
Jacob Lew, the Treasury secretary nominee, told lawmakers Wednesday he would work to overhaul the tax code and reduce costs of programs such as Medicare, but largely avoided delving into specifics about how he would tackle such tasks (Paletta, 2/13).

Kaiser Health News: President Obama Calls For 'Modest Reforms' To Medicare
Kaiser Health News' Mary Agnes Carey and Jackie Judd examine the health care issues in Tuesday's State of the Union address as well as in Sen. Rubio's Republican response (2/13).

Reuters: Obama Medicare Rebate Plan Could Hurt Drug Companies
President Barack Obama's decision to spotlight drug rebates as a way to save money on Medicare is likely to be opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which could potentially lose billions of dollars in profits. In his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Obama said he would "reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies" to rein in the rising cost of Medicare, the $600 billion healthcare program for the elderly and disabled (Berkrot and Morgan, 2/13).

And sequester concerns continue to emanate from public health agencies --

CQ Healthbeat: CDC Director Frieden Predicts Local Public Health Cuts Under Sequester
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have "no alternative" but to reduce funding for state and local public health agencies if automatic budget cuts go into effect on March 1, the director of the agency told a House panel on Wednesday. CDC Director Thomas Frieden said that if the agency's funds are reduced under sequester provisions in the 2011 budget control law, "we have to do everything we can to limit the harm we have to do." Leaders of the agency are "focusing on efficiencies" and trimming administrative costs, he told the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (Norman, 2/13).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 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.