Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Candidates Court Seniors, Payroll Tax/Medicare Doc Fix, MRC on the Budget

Medicare on Their Minds

From Kaiser Health News:  "When GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney told conservative activists on Friday that he wants to 'save' Medicare by turning it into a program that would give seniors a defined sum -- and no more -- to shop for the health plan of their choice, he teed up an issue that has the potential to sway millions of voters, especially seniors, in November.  Three days later, President Barack Obama repeated his own pledge to preserve the program, proposing as part of his 2013 budget plan to reduce spending growth by about $300 billion over 10 years, but keep intact its guaranteed, specified benefits.  'What I will not support are efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher,' the president wrote in his budget."

Insight, again, from Kaiser Health News.  Must reading for helpful facts and election contrasts.

Doc Fix Update

"House Democrats will support a GOP bill to extend the expiring payroll tax cut through the end of the year, when Republicans bring it to a vote later this week.  That basically puts to rest any remaining doubts that the provision will expire at the end of the month.  Now the fight is on between the parties over whether and how to renew two other expiring provisions -- extended unemployment benefits, and Medicare physician reimbursement rates (the 'doc fix') -- before March.  And the balance of power in this battle is much less clear."

"When the payroll tax cut was at stake, Democrats unquestionably enjoyed the upper hand.  But with that issue likely resolved, Democrats are trying to keep as much heat as they can on the GOP not to play games with UI or the doc fix -- provisions which together cost $60 billion.  The problem for Dems is that UI and the doc fix -- while extremely important to seniors, doctors and the unemployed -- carry less political valence than the payroll tax cut."

Medicare in the Budget

From the Medicare Rights Center:  "The President’s inclusion of provisions that raise revenues demonstrates a real commitment to a balanced approach, one that will better protect those with Medicare and Medicaid from more substantial cuts to these programs and therefore preserve their access to quality, affordable health care.  However, proposals that would shift greater costs onto those with Medicare, half of whom live on about 22,000 per year or less, do not appropriately target the root cause of growing costs in the Medicare program, which are growing health care costs overall."

The Republican Reality-Free Zone


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