Photo: The White House
President Barack Obama is considering hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid as part of a deal to raise the debt limit and close the deficit.According to The New York Times, the White House would be willing to make $340 billion in reductions to the social insurance programs over 10 years — as long as Republicans agree to revenue increases.
“I’ve been willing to say we need to see where we can reduce the cost of health care spending and Medicare and Medicaid in the out-years, not by shifting costs on to seniors, as some have proposed, but rather by actually reducing those costs,” he said in a press conference last week.
Talks between Obama and Republican legislators to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit have been stalled for nearly two weeks over new taxes and cuts to corporate subsidies.
The White House proposed $600 billion in revenue increases last week, immediately drawing criticism from Republicans — though GOP lawmakers appear to be softening their opposition to cutting subsidies.
Obama’s plan differs substantially from the one introduced last week by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), which would cut $600 billion from Medicare over a decade, mainly by raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67, and increasing premiums for those with higher incomes.
Democrats were quick to criticise the Lieberman/Coburn proposal for cutting benefits for seniors, but have similar language to Obama on reducing “delivery-side” costs to Medicare and Medicaid.
The White House says a deal on the debt ceiling must be reached by July 22 to prevent the government from defaulting on August 2.
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