Richard Neal slams Trump budget's proposed Medicare cuts

Richard Neal slams Trump budget's proposed Medicare cuts

The president is seeking one of the largest-ever cuts to domestic discretionary spending in a $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget proposal that also boosts defense spending and adds $8.6 billion for building a border wall. The 2020 plan also calls for a nationwide Medicaid work requirement for low-income adults to be eligible for coverage.

Yarmuth criticized proposed spending cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition assistance, student loans, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

First, dishonesty. There is, to be sure, a smidgen of candor in the fact that the plan does not purport to balance the federal budget within the next decade, though it does suggest that balance may be achieved by 2034; so much for the pretense that growth sparked by the 2017 tax cuts will solve the United States' fiscal problem.

Meanwhile the changes proposed at the FDA in the document entitled 'A Budget for a Better America' tighten up regulations on generics manufacturers in order to improve competition for off-patent drugs and lower prices.

"These cuts in the Trump budget aren't a tightening of the belt or a trimming of the fat, or even a serious attempt at reining in spending", House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said during the hearing.

HHS secretary Alex Azar will appear in front of three separate Congressional committees this week to defend the budget: Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health; Wednesday, the House Appropriations subcommittee; and Thursday the Senate Finance Committee. It cuts $845 billion, nearly a trillion dollar cut in Medicare, and nearly a quarter trillion, $240 billion cut in Medicaid. Why?

But the head of a major hospital association was pushing back, saying in a blog that "arbitrary and blunt" Medicare cuts would have a "devastating" impact on care for seniors.

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"Hospitals are less and less able to cover the cost of care for Medicare patients", FAH president and CEO Chip Kahn said in a statement.

Perhaps Sanders and Warren believe that reimbursement cuts would force providers to reduce service: Pay doctors less, and you'll get less from them.

Questioned at the budget hearing by Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., Azar acknowledged that the administration can not force Medicaid spending limits onto states, and Congress would have to approve such sweeping changes. The latest Trump budget essentially repeats his earlier proposal to do away with the Affordable Care Act and cap Medicaid spending. His administration, in fact, promotes Medicare Advantage, but there is also less evidence these days of significant federal overpayments in the program, Neuman said.

The group also said it's concerned about that some of Trump's Medicare drug proposals could create winners and losers among beneficiaries.

A statement from AARP reflected a mix of praise and concern.

It estimates about 85 percent of the proposed Medicare cuts come from reductions in provider payments, and an additional 5 percent come from policies that would reduce overall healthcare costs (primarily medical malpractice reform).

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