Obama recommits to preserving Medicare in coming sequester battle

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President Barack Obama reaffirmed his vow to protect Medicare in the fight over sequestration spending cuts last week.

“I believe the American people understand that yes, we need to … reduce the deficit, but it shouldn't just be on the backs of seniors,” Obama said in a Thursday address to Democratic members of the House of Representatives.

The clock is ticking on the two-month sequester extension enacted as part of January's fiscal cliff deal. On Tuesday, Obama asked Congress to extend the deadline again. This would give the White House and legislators more time to hammer out an agreement to avoid the automatic sequestration cuts – including a 2% reduction in Medicare reimbursements. Long-term care groups have protested any further reimbursement cuts.

Obama told the lawmakers that their Republican colleagues would vie for deep entitlement cuts without raising taxes. In a column published Friday, Speaker of the House John Boehner seemed to confirm this, writing that the sequester should be replaced “not with further tax increases” but with spending reductions that will balance the budget within a decade.

To balance the budget in that 10-year-timeframe, the GOP has promised a proposed budget with radical cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs.

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