Groups Fume That Medicare Cuts May Pay for Trade Bill

Senior and provider groups accuse Congress of using the insurance program as a piggy bank for other areas.

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 20: Union members and community activists protest outside the Miami Dade College where the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the college were hosting a moderated conversation with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew on March 20, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
National Journal
April 21, 2015, 2:13 p.m.

Seni­or and pro­vider groups are angry that Medi­care cuts will help pay for one of the trade bills that Con­gress will soon con­sider and are wa­ging a last-ditch ef­fort to nix the cuts.

The Trade Ad­just­ment As­sist­ance reau­thor­iz­a­tion bill hasn’t re­ceived as much at­ten­tion as the fast-track trade au­thor­ity bill, but Demo­crats see it as a pri­or­ity: The pro­gram helps work­ers who have been put out of a job be­cause of for­eign trade with job-train­ing and place­ment as well as health-in­sur­ance costs. The House and Sen­ate are ex­pec­ted to move the bill in tan­dem with the fast-track trade meas­ure, said an aide to Demo­crat­ic Sen. Ron Wyden, who hashed out the trade deal with Sen. Or­rin Hatch and Rep. Paul Ry­an, both Re­pub­lic­ans.

But on Tues­day, seni­or and pro­vider groups star­ted cri­ti­ciz­ing the pro­pos­al. They’re un­happy be­cause about $700 mil­lion of the $2.9 bil­lion cost would be off­set by in­creas­ing the cuts to Medi­care au­thor­ized by the auto­mat­ic budget cuts known as se­quest­ra­tion in fisc­al year 2024 by 0.25 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to a Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice score of the House bill.

“Ap­par­ently us­ing Medi­care as a piggy bank to pay for everything un­der the sun has be­come the new le­gis­lat­ive norm for Con­gress,” Max Richt­man, pres­id­ent and CEO of the Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee to Pre­serve So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care, said in a state­ment to Na­tion­al Journ­al. “Rather than bal­an­cing pri­or­it­ies or con­sid­er­ing a penny of new rev­en­ue, con­gres­sion­al lead­ers are pro­pos­ing to once again fun­nel Medi­care re­sources in­to un­re­lated pro­grams and fixes—this time it’s the trade ad­just­ment as­sist­ance pro­gram.”

A co­ali­tion of pro­vider groups, in­clud­ing the Amer­ic­an Hos­pit­al As­so­ci­ation and the Amer­ic­an Med­ic­al As­so­ci­ation, sent a let­ter to sen­at­ors Tues­day op­pos­ing the bill.

“Hos­pit­als, phys­i­cians, nurs­ing homes, and home health and hos­pice pro­viders have already ab­sorbed hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars in cuts to the Medi­care pro­gram in re­cent years,” they wrote. “Ad­di­tion­ally alarm­ing is the use of Medi­care cuts to pay for non-Medi­care-re­lated le­gis­la­tion, a pre­ced­ent that we be­lieve is un­wise.”

Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mark Warner is work­ing on an al­tern­at­ive pro­pos­al to re­place the Medi­care cuts, his spokes­man Kev­in Hall said. His pro­pos­al would try to re­cu­per­ate more money from real-es­tate taxes by ramp­ing up re­port­ing re­quire­ments. The Sen­ate Fin­ance Com­mit­tee will mark up the bill Wed­nes­day.

As of Tues­day af­ter­noon, the news ap­par­ently hadn’t made the rounds in the Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate caucus, some mem­bers of which are already skep­tic­al of the broad­er trade deal. Demo­crat­ic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who has been a pro­ponent of reau­thor­iz­ing TAA, was sur­prised when told Medi­care cuts are set to help pay for the bill.

“We’re still work­ing through all of this. We need a strong bill that sup­ports re­train­ing for people who have lost their jobs,” she said. “I cer­tainly don’t sup­port Medi­care cuts “¦ so we’ll have to take a look at that.”

What We're Following See More »
MANAFORT STEERED HIM WORK IN UKRAINE
Prosecutors Weighing Whether to Charge Greg Craig
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

A long-running federal investigation into former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig "is reaching a critical stage, presenting the Justice Department with a decision about whether to charge a prominent Democrat as part of a more aggressive crackdown on illegal foreign lobbying." Federal prosecutors in New York have transferred the case to Washington. ... The investigation centers on whether Mr. Craig should have disclosed work he did in 2012 — while he was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — on behalf of the Russia-aligned government of Viktor F. Yanukovych, then the president of Ukraine. The work was steered to Mr. Craig by Paul Manafort."

Source:
LOWER COURT HAD INVALIDATED LIFE SENTENCE
SCOTUS Will Hear DC Sniper Case
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider Virginia’s plea to reinstate the life-without-parole sentence of a man who as a teenager participated in sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington, D.C., region in 2002. The justices said they will take up the state’s appeal in the case of Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 17 when he and John Allen Muhammad fatally shot 10 people in Maryland, Virginia and Washington. Malvo was sentenced to life-without-parole terms in Virginia and in Maryland, and Muhammad was sentenced to death and was executed in 2009. Malvo was sentenced to four life terms for crimes he committed in Virginia. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled last year that while Malvo’s life-without-parole sentences were legal when they were imposed."

Source:
PROSECUTORS, DOT ARE INVOLVED
U.S. Grand Jury Seeks info on How 737 MAX Is Made
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Federal prosecutors and Department of Transportation officials are scrutinizing the development of Boeing Co.’s 737 MAX jetliners, according to people familiar with the matter, unusual inquiries that come amid probes of regulators’ safety approvals of the new plane. A grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a broad subpoena dated March 11 to at least one person involved in the 737 MAX’s development, seeking related documents, including correspondence, emails and other messages."

Source:
HAS NOT ATTENDED HIGH-LEVEL MEETINGS OF LATE
MBS Stripped of Some Powers
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The heir to the Saudi throne has not attended a series of high-profile ministerial and diplomatic meetings in Saudi Arabia over the last fortnight and is alleged to have been stripped of some of his financial and economic authority, the Guardian has been told. The move to restrict, if only temporarily, the responsibilities of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is understood to have been revealed to a group of senior ministers earlier last week by his father, King Salman."

Source:
TURKISH MAN BEING SOUGHT
Mass Shooting in Dutch City of Utrecht
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login