GOP Candidates Discuss Entitlement Cuts, Health Insurance, Reform Law
Several Republican presidential candidates spoke about entitlement cuts in New Hampshire over the weekend, the AP/Washington Post reports.
During a nationally televised debate on Sunday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) said he would shift Medicaid responsibility to the states. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) predicted that reducing Medicare and Medicaid fraud and waste could lead to $1 trillion in savings over a decade (AP/Washington Post, 1/8).
Santorum also proposed cutting the federal budget by $5 trillion over five years, The Hill's "On The Money" reports. His plan would cut federal spending more quickly than plans from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the House Republican Study Committee (Wasson, "On The Money," The Hill, 1/9).
To reach this level of savings, Santorum suggested accelerating Ryan's Medicare plan, which would alter Medicare from a fee-for-service program to one that would have beneficiaries purchase coverage on the private market. The plan was rejected by the Senate (California Healthline, 12/15/11).
Ryan's plan would not apply to beneficiaries currently enrolled in the program and would take effect in 2022, but experts say Santorum would need to start in the coming years to reach his goal ("On The Money," The Hill, 1/9).
Santorum Discusses Health Insurance
During a town-hall meeting over the weekend, Santorum was questioned by an emergency department nurse about pre-existing conditions and the price of health insurance, the Hartford Courant reports. The nurse asked Santorum why her son -- who was diagnosed with cancer at age five -- should pay more for coverage as an adult.
Santorum asked the nurse, "You believe that someone with a health care issue should pay the same amount as a healthy person?" She responded that she did. Santorum then compared health insurance to auto insurance and said "People with higher risk should pay more. Why should we charge more to people who have done everything right?" (Abcarian, Hartford Courant, 1/6).
Paul Says Corporate Health Care Not 'A Whole Lot Better' Than Government-Run System
Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) during a town-hall meeting said the current medical system is overly corporate and not much better than a government-run system, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports. Paul, who is a physician, said he began practicing before Medicare and Medicaid were introduced and added that since the federal government has had a role in health care, costs have increased and the system has become more controlled by corporations.
"[N]ow we've introduced a changed medical system where the quality goes down, the cost[s] go up and everybody is unhappy," Paul said, suggesting that things would get worse with the federal health reform law. "I think a good way to start ... will be to get rid of [the overhaul] and make sure the control of medicine is returned to you, the citizen, the patient," Paul said (Nagesh, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.