As Debate Heats Up, How Does Medicare Fit Into Debt Limit Fight?

President Barack Obama signals an interest in "modest adjustments" to Medicare and other safety net programs -- but not in the context of debt limit discussions -- as Republicans demand spending cuts be part of a deal to raise the federal debt limit.

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Escalates Debt Fight
Mr. Obama said he was willing to work with the GOP on an agreement to cut spending—including "modest adjustments to programs like Medicare"—but not in the context of the debt ceiling. He said agreeing to link the two would be like a "negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people'' in which Republicans would threaten to cut safety-net programs under a threat "to wreck the entire economy.'' House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) has acknowledged that delaying an increase in the debt limit could cause economic harm, but he said not reining in government spending also carried consequences (Lee and Hook, 1/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Americans Like Spending Cuts In Theory, Not In Detail, Complicating Deficit Talks In Capital
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking toward the March 1 start of major, across-the-board spending cuts that both parties call unwise. These are the postponed cuts — or "sequester," in Congress-speak — lingering from the partial resolution of the "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1. These cuts would hit military and domestic programs hard. But they would spare "entitlements," the popular but costly programs that include Medicare and Social Security. Leaders in both parties say lawmakers soon must confront entitlements if they are to stem the nation's long-term deficit-spending problem (1/15).

Kaiser Health News: Obama: 'Our Commitment To Medicare… Is Really Important' (Video)
Kaiser Health News offers a video and transcript of yesterday's White House news conference in which President Obama discussed how he sees Medicare, Medicaid and other health care spending factoring into the looming conflict over raising the federal debt ceiling (1/14).

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.