Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues.
Administration officials and Republican negotiators say the money can be taken from health care providers like hospitals and nursing homes without directly imposing new costs on needy beneficiaries or radically restructuring either program.
Before the talks led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. broke off 12 days ago, negotiators said, they had reached substantial agreement on many cuts in the growth of Medicare, which provides care to people 65 and older, and Medicaid, which covers lower-income people. Those proposals are still on the table when Congress reconvenes this week, aides said, and are serious options that Democrats could accept in exchange for Republican concessions that raise revenues.
“Congress smells blood,” said William L. Minnix Jr., the chief lobbyist for nonprofit nursing homes.
The one thing the Democrats had in 2012 was that the Republicans were happy with gutting Medicare and Medicaid. If Dems turn around and propose these cuts, not only will the public tell them to screw off in 2012, but the Republicans will immediately attack the Dems for doing so, despite all their talk about wanting Democrats to "back off" the Medicare/Medicaid issue.
If Obama's really putting this on the table, then I don't know what to say, other than his re-election chances in 2012 significantly and exponentially go down if he signs them into law.