House Budget Chair: ‘Republicans Are Not The Threat To Seniors’ Health Care’

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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House Committee on the Budget Chairman [crscore]Tom Price[/crscore] slammed Democrats for accusation Republicans are threatening seniors’ health care with proposals to reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security during a marathon markup of the Republican Fiscal Year 2017 budget blueprint Wednesday.

The “Balanced Budget for a Stronger America” calls for a complete repeal of Obamacare, a stop to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and giving the states more power over their programs by providing them with State Flexibility Funds. Medicare would transition, allowing beneficiaries to pick from a list of federally-certified plans – similar to how Medicare Advantage, the private-sector part of Medicare, and Medicare Part D operate. Social Security would also see reforms in that individuals would not be allowed to receive both unemployment insurance and disability insurance simultaneously.

Ranking Member [crscore]Chris Van Hollen[/crscore] charged the budget of helping the wrong demographic, a statement Republicans quickly shot down.

“Who does it come after? It cuts Medicaid by $1 trillion. Two-thirds of that goes to seniors and people with disabilities. Two-thirds of those funds,” the Maryland Democrat said. “It cuts Medicare by $450 billion. Seniors will have to go back to paying co-pays for preventive services. It reopens the prescription drug donut hole.”

GOP lawmakers argued the Congressional Budget Office predicts the programs will be insolvent in the near future, with the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund slated to be exhausted by 2030 and Medicare’s Hospital Insurance trust fund expected to run out around 2026.

“The longer we wait to do something about that unsustainable trajectory, the worse fiscal shape we will be in,” he said in his opening statement. “But, more importantly, the longer we ignore the insolvency of programs like Medicare, the bigger the threat to our fellow Americans. Price said Democrat inaction is more responsible for the issue than Republicans who are trying to find a solution to keep the programs alive.

“Let’s be absolutely clear. The threat to seniors’ health care is not coming from those of us trying to save Medicare and provide more choices and higher quality,” the Georgia Republican said. “It is coming from those who are unwilling to do anything that can realistically secure and strengthen this program and many other programs like Medicaid and Social Security that are either failing those they serve or headed toward insolvency.”

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