WASHINGTON – Medicare will be on the table when Vice President Joe Biden meets with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and other congressional leaders this week to continue the ongoing debt limit negotiations.
It's unclear whether the White House will agree to any cuts for beneficiaries, but other areas in Medicare are on the chopping block when negotiators meet between Tuesday and Friday, according to three sources familiar with the discussions.
Republicans are pushing hard for a deal that reduces the scope of Medicare. House and Senate Democratic leaders have said they will refuse to accept any cuts to beneficiaries, but are willing to seek savings in areas of waste, fraud and over-payments to drug companies.
Republicans remain wary of the White House's desire to include revenue increases in the deal.
The partisan sniping simmered considerably last week, signaling hope that a resolution may be in the works. None of the sources Raw Story spoke to could say with any certainty what a final deal may look like, but all parties involved agree on the need to resolve the issue soon.
Republicans have refused to increase the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit without spending cuts as part of the package. A House bill to raise the ceiling without strings attached failed to pass three weeks ago.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says the final deadline to raise the ceiling is August 2 or the U.S. would have to start defaulting on its obligations.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday that a short-term debt limit increase may be likely if there aren't significant "entitlement" cuts in the agreement.
"The president and the vice president, everybody knows you have to tackle entitlement reform," he said on CBS' Face The Nation. "If we can't do that, then we’ll probably end up with a very short-term proposal over, you know, a few months, and we’ll be back having the same discussion again in the fall."