A spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office disputed the accuracy of a Wednesday Washington Post story reporting House Republicans conceded a deal to overhaul the Medicare program is unlikely and would begin budget talks with the White House focused on other areas.
Cantor says GOP not backing off on Medicare
Cantor, a Virginia Republican, maintained his commitment to the Republican budget proposal Thursday, the same day the administration's deficit commission—led by Vice President Joe Biden—will hold its first meeting with congressional leaders from both chambers.
“For decades, Congress has increased the debt limit without implementing serious reforms and those efforts have simply resulted in more debt limit increases, which is unacceptable," Laena Fallon, Cantor's press secretary, said in an e-mail. "As Leader Cantor has made clear, the House GOP position is the Ryan budget, period. Our budget assumes a debt-limit increase while managing down our debt by strengthening our insolvent entitlement program, and achieving significant savings in non-healthcare mandatory programs and discretionary spending.”
The Post reported Wednesday that senior Republicans had reached that conclusion and would instead concentrate budget talks with Democrats on areas of agreement, such as cuts to farm subsidies.
According to the story, Cantor said Republicans remain convinced that controlling federal entitlement programs is essential to stabilizing the nation's finances over the long term, but would focus on other areas after the President Barack Obama "excoriated us" on the GOP's Medicare proposal.
"The story is incorrect and we are working with the Washington Post to ensure accuracy," Cantor's office said in a statement via e-mail on Wednesday.
Last month, the House Budget Committee released its fiscal 2012 budget proposal, which suggested shifting to a so-called premium-support system for the Medicare program.
Separately Wednesday, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) office highlighted bipartisan support for the premium-support model dating back to the 1990s. Modern Healthcare received a copy of that memo, which included a collection of news stories and opinion pieces showing support from former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and current Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).
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