Monday, January 2, 2017

House, Senate headed for clash on Medicare

Senate and House Republicans are headed for a clash over whether to tackle Medicare reform under President-elect Donald Trump.
Senate Republican leaders prefer to focus narrowly on an ObamaCare replacement bill that does not contain changes to Medicare — a cautious approach that reflects their slim majority.
But House Republicans, firmly in control of the lower chamber, want to aim higher. They say unified Republican control of government is a chance to finally enact the entitlement reforms that they’ve been talking about for years.
Rep. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over healthcare, said voters have endorsed the Republican argument that Medicare needs to be reformed.
“The changes in Medicare that we have proposed have been litigated and the country has said, we’ll entrust you with very big majorities,” Roskam said. “Republicans keep talking about these things and keep winning. The question isn’t whether to do them, it’s when to do them.”
The wild card in the debate is Trump.
He pledged during the campaign not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, but his Cabinet selections have cast doubt on that promise.
House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), whom Trump tapped to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services, is a leading advocate of Medicare reform, as is Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), his choice to head the White House budget office. 
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said shortly after the election that Medicare and Medicaid would have to be reformed to some extent as part of the effort to replace ObamaCare.
“ObamaCare rewrote Medicare, rewrote Medicaid, so if you’re going to repeal and replace ObamaCare, you have to address those issues as well,” Ryan told Fox News. 
“Because of ObamaCare, Medicaid is in fiscal straights,” Ryan added. “Medicare has got some serious problems because of ObamaCare. Those things are part of our plan to replace ObamaCare.” Read full story here 

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