Medicare and Medicaid reform should not be top priority to balance the budget as they are only a small part of what consumes the budget. People will always need access and means to take care of their health, whether it be administered through Medicare and Medicaid or some private entity. There are other ways to balance the budget, excluding Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicare and Medicaid are without a doubt flawed systems that might be doing more to hurt or confuse Americans that it is doing to help. They are important safety nets, but inefficiencies prevent their ideal performance. However, a balanced budget will require combing over all sorts of issues and looking for a comprehensive approach to the issue. This is better than singling individual items out.
I really dislike that questions such as this are even brought up. You want to reform something, reform the tax code and reform the bloated carcass of a military budget. Why is it always social programs that give people a better quality of life that has to be reformed all the time?
While we will no doubt look at one issue at a time when balancing the budget, putting something at top priority by its very definition is not keeping balance. Medicaid and Medicare are both important issues that have created a need for and used a great deal of spending, but there are tremendous amounts of funds much greater than the Medicaid and Medicare issues facing our budget. The factors that should all be considered simultaneously to achieve balance are: government aid programs (including Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Disability, and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), foreign aid and policy, the pay/salaries of public servants (which should be significantly reduced and put back into government programs and deficit reduction), energy production and reliance, education, and homeland security. The money allotted for campaigns for elected officials and those funds that are used to acquire legal aid to hide their sources should be eliminated; elected officials should raise their own funds period and not rely on aid from the government until they are employed by it. While Medicaid and Medicare, and indeed health-care in general have been a serious source of controversy and a known source of spending for Americans, making it more of a priority than education or energy or the like cannot ensure that the budget will be balanced. Instead, it will be a Medicaid and Medicare-based budget which will not at all better the situation our economy faces.
I think that there are more important issues to deal with than reforming such programs like Medicare and Medicaid. It should not be a top priority since the reforming of them would not significantly help to balance the budget. Things that would help the economy more are the issue of helping people with programs to help pay their housing loans.