Health Reform

Defense Sec’y: Medicare, SS Funding Increases Should Be Considered in Wake of More Cuts in Pentagon Budget

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The recent vote by Congress to end the debt ceiling debacle is forcing lawmakers to take a hard look at federal spending in some of the most sacred and protected programs, chiefly the defense budget, Social Security, and Medicare. The next big front on this news cycle will be who will be serving on the so-called Deficit Super Committee — the body whose task it will be to “reduce entitlement spending” and create savings in those programs.

The recent vote by Congress to end the debt ceiling debacle is forcing lawmakers to take a hard look at federal spending in some of the most sacred and protected programs, chiefly the defense budget, Social Security, and Medicare. The next big front on this news cycle will be who will be serving on the so-called Deficit Super Committee — the body whose task it will be to “reduce entitlement spending” and create savings in those programs. President Obama has often called for a balanced approach to this problem, by increasing taxation on the nation’s wealthiest while combining savings from entitlements collectively.

Newly installed Sec’y of Defense Leon Panetta has put out the call for raising taxes on SS and Medicare before even thinking about any cuts to defense spending, citing a risk to national security. Within defense appropriations, the military’s health coverage for retirees and dependents, the costs to fund this program have risen over two and half times to a current level of spending approaching $55 billion. The venerable Tricare program has come under the scrutiny of the Obama administration — not for any impropriety — but as a source for possible changes to federal spending on this portion of the defense budget. Look for a commission to be formed to deal with possible changes to this program and tackle the contentious issue of healthcare spending within the defense budget on the cusp of healthcare reform. | LINK

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