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Obama takes a scalpel to health programs



President Obama's plan to cut the deficit doesn't exactly spare Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs. But he also doesn't propose the sweeping sorts of changes envisioned by House Republicans earlier this year. The proposal to reduce the deficit by an additional $3 trillion over the next decade includes spending reductions of some $320 billion in Medicare, and $73 in Medicaid and other health programs, the vast majority of it from health care providers, not beneficiaries. The biggest cuts would come in what Medicare pays for prescription drugs in the future. But the president made clear that he doesn't intend to make any health cuts unless the Republicans relent on their pledge against new revenues. "I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share," he said in remarks in the White House Rose Garden. "We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable." Still, the proposal does backtrack, at least somewhat, on vows by Democrats from earlier this year not to touch Medicare beneficiaries.
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