Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lieberman-Coburn Would Slash Medicare, Debt Negotiations Still Focus on Medicare

More Proposed Bi-Partisan Cuts to Medicare

The Joe Lieberman and Tom Coburn plan to slash Medicare is getting a cold reception.  "The new effort aimed at bridging the partisan divide over debt reduction aims to cut more than $640 billion from Medicare over the next 10 years, largely by raising deductibles and other costs for beneficiaries.  It would require wealthier Americans to pay the full cost of their Medicare premiums, raise the eligibility age to from 65 to 67, create a minimum out-of-pocket deductible of $550 and raise premiums, among other changes."  Unfortunately, the plan requires seniors to bear the heaviest burden of addressing Medicare's problems.  And, neither Democrats nor Republicans -- who continue to beat the same drum -- are enamored of the ideas.

It hardly seems that a proposal like this would have a chance in today's environment.  "Doomed" might be a fair assessment.  "Lieberman and Coburn's proposal includes several politically risky benefit changes, such as making seniors pay more for their prescription drugs."  Coburn, Lieberman cook up 'bipartisan' Medicare slashing plan.

On a similar note:  "Republicans may be suffering politically for voting to phase out Medicare.  But they moved the needle on the policy debate way to the right, and, as such, cutting Medicare now is basically a fait accompli.  The latest plan comes from Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).  This is an interesting political coalition for a few reasons.  Recall that Coburn left the Gang-of-Six Senate debt talks for proposing dramatic cuts to Medicare, and has now found comfort in the arms of liberals' darkest bete noire."  However, Democratic leaders already have rejected the Coburn, Lieberman plan to raise the  Medicare retirement age to 67.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "It is unfair to ask seniors to get less in benefits and wait longer to get onto Medicare -- all while Republicans back tax breaks for Big Oil and corporations that ship American jobs overseas.  Just like the Republican plan to end Medicare, this proposal is unacceptable, especially for struggling middle-class Americans."

Debt Update: Medicare Under the Gun

And so, the Conservative Republicans have really dug in their heels and said, give us huge Medicare cuts, or raise the debt limit yourself.  "Senate Republicans are threatening openly to throw up their hands and let Democrats vote to raise the debt limit on their own if President Obama doesn't cave and agree to trillions of dollars in entitlement cuts and zero tax increases."  All of this puts House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in an incredibly awkward position.  "Boehner is stuck between the absolute imperative that Congress raise the debt limit, and the highly partisan demands of his caucus, which won't vote to allow the country to borrow more money without simultaneously cutting a big hole into the social safety net."

Video update on the budget talks and possible Medicare cuts:  Health On The Hill: Obama Confers With Senate Leaders On Budget (from Kaiser Health News).


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