Republican Budget Proposals Include Health Care Spending Cuts

On Tuesday, House Republicans unveiled a budget proposal and Senate Republicans this week are expected to reveal a budget blueprint, both of which include cuts to government health care programs, the AP/Washington Times reports.

House Blueprint

In the House, Budget Committee Chair Tom Price (R-Ga.) on Tuesday unveiled a proposal that relies on many ideas from his predecessor, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), according to the AP/Washington Times (Taylor, AP/Washington Times, 3/16). Specifically, the House GOP’s budget plan proposes:

-Reintroducing the “premium support” model that would make Medicare like a voucher system for future beneficiaries;
-Converting Medicaid into a block grant program; and
-Repealing the Affordable Care Act (Weisman, New York Times, 3/16).

The Medicare premium support model would provide funds for seniors to purchase private coverage. Under the proposal, the change would apply to seniors who join Medicare after 2023 (Taylor, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 3/16).

Supporters have said the measure would encourage innovation and keep the program viable. Opponents have said the vouchers would not keep pace with medical inflation and would cause beneficiaries to have to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for less-generous coverage.

Under the proposed Medicaid changes, the federal government would give states a lump sum to run their individual programs (AP/Washington Times, 3/16).

Further, the proposal would repeal the entire ACA. The House proposal would use reconciliation to allow the measure to pass in the Senate with a simple majority. However, even if passed, the measure could still face a presidential veto (Weisman, New York Times, 3/16).

Senate Proposal

In the Senate, Budget Committee Chair Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is expected to release his proposal on Wednesday. His plan would reduce Medicare spending by $402 billion over the next decade, which is in line with President Obama’s budget proposal. However, Enzi’s proposal will not include the president’s long list of provisions that would apply cuts to providers (AP/Washington Times, 3/16).

“Historically, the Senate has been less willing to take on the tough issues, and the early sounds are they’re not going to do a Ryan-type Medicare-Medicaid plan,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said, adding, “They face a very difficult election atmosphere next year” (Weisman, New York Times, 3/16).

Plans Could Face Resistance From Both Sides

Democrats traditionally have resisted Republican plans to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid. Further, some Senate GOP lawmakers “appear uneasy” about the House’s proposals to cut entitlement spending, according to the Los Angeles Times’ “Nation Now” (Mascaro, “Nation Now,” Los Angeles Times, 3/16).

Obama Response

Meanwhile, President Obama this week is expected to respond to the GOP proposals by disseminating another approach that would increase spending on domestic programs, including health care, the New York Times reports.

In addition, as the GOP looks to repeal the ACA, HHS this week released data showing 16.4 million U.S. residents have gained health insurance since the law was signed.

Further, Brian Deese, a senior adviser to Obama, highlighted in a blog post Monday that health care cost growth has slowed in recent years (Hirschfeld Davis, New York Times, 3/16).

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