GOP Members of Debt Panel Could OK Taxes in Exchange for Health Cuts
Republicans on the debt panel formed by the recent budget deal might be willing to consider tax increases in exchange for Democrats agreeing to health care cuts, according to a source familiar with the discussions, Reuters reports.
Until now, GOP lawmakers explicitly have opposed raising taxes to help reduce the deficit. The source said that lawmakers are still in the initial stages of the discussion, noting, "Democrats want to know exactly what the Republicans mean by revenues. The Republicans want to know from the Democrats what is on the table in terms of entitlement reform."
A Senate Republican aide confirmed that "[r]evenues are being discussed," adding that the debt panel's final recommendations might include initiatives to close tax loopholes and eliminate tax rate cuts.
However, another congressional aide said that Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), a member of the panel, still strongly opposes any tax increases (Smith/Reid, Reuters, 10/4).
Groups Lobby Panel
In related news, the American Medical Association and 98 other medical groups on Tuesday sent a letter to the debt panel urging it to recommend medical liability reforms. AMA cited Congressional Budget Office estimates that found placing limits on malpractice suits could save more than $62 billion in federal spending over 10 years.
AMA President Peter Carmel said, "Reforming the costly and inefficient medical liability system with proven solutions will save taxpayers money" (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/4).
Meanwhile, 20 medical specialty groups on Tuesday sent a letter to the panel urging it to recommend dismantling the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
The groups wrote, "Today, the price tag for repealing the IPAB is relatively small, so Congress should seize this moment and repeal the IPAB now before the cost to do so becomes prohibitive and access to care problems become acute."
The letter adds, "Also, because IPAB funding is authorized to begin on October 1, 2011, and board members can now be appointed, there is urgency for repeal before this board is established." The letter acknowledges that repealing IPAB would increase the deficit, but it notes that waiting to dismantle the board would be more costly (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/4).
In addition, House Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter to the committee asking it to consider requiring negotiation of prescription drug prices for Medicare Part D (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 10/4).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.