GOP deficit plan gone ...
... but cuts to Medicare, Medicaid likely to stay
After the defeat of a Republican plan to cut federal deficits with controversial Medicare and Medicaid changes, some congressional Democrats claimed cuts to those programs are now off the table. Not likely, said healthcare provider groups. They agreed that Democrats succeeded in harnessing the public’s queasiness with Republicans’ proposed Medicare changes. But they doubted that a final deal to reduce the growing and historically massive annual federal deficits, which will reach about $1.5 trillion this year, will not include Medicare changes.
That expectation for eventual cuts to Medicare, as well as Medicaid, stems from the mathematical reality of the programs’ size— 23% of the $3.5 trillion federal budget in fiscal 2010, according to the Congressional Budget Office—and the size of the annual deficit.
“Over the long term, providers are going to have to remain very engaged in this,” Michael Regier, senior vice president of legal and corporate affairs at VHA, said in an interview. “That’s because the size of the budget deficit means they will have to include Medicare.”
Senate Democrats and five Republicans joined forces to defeat the Ryan budget May 25, in large part because it would allow cuts in Medicare spending by eventually transforming it into a system of private insurance premium subsidies. The Senate vote came the day after the Democratic candidate in a
Reid, who spoke to reporters after a budget vote last week, says the Senate sent a “strong message” to Republicans.