It's pretty clear by now that worries over deficit spending are going to frame Washington's big policy debates in the coming year. And health care is at the top of the list.
Republicans and the insurance industry contend the health care overhaul does little to control premium increases, and they're hoping that message gets through to Americans looking at health insurance bills that never seem to go down. The administration says that the law indeed will control costs for consumers and businesses across the board—at the same time it expands access to millions of the uninsured and extends new consumer protections.
In advance of a speech by President Obama on the health care law, Health and Human Services (HHS) officials released a new report that says families will save on premiums as well as out-of-pocket costs.
When it came to health care, President Obama's remarks in the House chamber were predictable and safe. He told his base that he would continue to defend against any attempts to beat back the health overhaul law, his signature domestic achievement. And he continued to throw familiar bones to Republicans: that he's behind fixing the 1099 tax-reporting requirement and willing to talk about changes to medical malpractice laws.
Members of the Senate's new Social Security Caucus lambasted House GOP proposals to partially privatize Social Security and convert Medicare to a voucher system, which Democrats contend could be offered on the House floor as early as next month.
A leading health care quality assessment organization, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, will release updated standards to give health providers who operate medical home programs a guide to earning accreditation.