When it came to health, what was most surprising was how little President Obama had to say in his State of the Union address. His landmark 2010 health overhaul — whose fate is currently before the Supreme Court and whose repeal is the top priority for every GOP presidential candidate — got barely a passing mention.
The president also resisted the urge to use the speech to criticize House Republicans for their passage last year of a budget plan that would dramatically reshape the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled. In fact, he noted that during last summer's budget talks, he too was "prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long-term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors."
The GOP plans, however, would not, in fact, guarantee seniors (and, in the case of Medicaid, those with low incomes) access to the same benefits they currently have. That's certain to mean that the fate of the major entitlement programs will remain a major point of contention both for the remainder of the Congress and on the campaign trail.