For weeks, Republicans have been misleading the American public — the truth is they have been trying to cut Medicare for years. Today, Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council, confirmed that they still have their sights set on Americans’ care. Asked when programs like Social Security and Medicare will be looked at for reforms, Kudlow replied, “Everyone will look at that — probably next year.”
Here are some ways they’ve already tried to undermine the program:
- Paul Ryan on Medicare: “It’s the biggest entitlement we’ve got to reform.” Paul Ryan, December 6, 2017: “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit…Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements…In- think the president is understanding that choice and competition works everywhere in health care, especially in Medicare…This has been my big thing for many, many years. I think it’s the biggest entitlement we’ve got to reform.”
- President Trump and Congressional Republicans are targeting Medicare and Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest. Last December, President Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill that disproportionately benefits the wealthy. How do Republicans plan on paying for it? Speaker Ryan’s answer is clear: “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt.” In an attempt to pay for these tax cuts, in April, House Republicans passed a budget amendment that would slash Medicare funding by $537 billion over the next decade.
- Congressional Republicans proposed these cuts after passing a budget resolution last year that cut Medicare by $473 billion. The 2018 budget resolution passed by Republicans in December 2017 cut Medicare by $473 billion.
- As the cost of drugs skyrocket, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress will not allow Medicare to negotiate for better prescription drug prices. Under current law, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is explicitly prohibited from negotiating directly with drug manufacturers on behalf of Medicare Part D enrollees. Although it would decrease both federal spending and beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, a policy allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries was noticeably absent from President Trump’s recent prescription drug announcement.
- Congressional Republicans have repeatedly attempted to transform Medicare into a voucher program, which experts warn would lead to the “demise” of the program. Speaker Ryan has spoken about turning Medicare into a voucher system, and in Fall 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services filed a Request for Information concerning a shift in a “new direction” for Medicare, which Senate Democrats worried might entail a voucher system. Experts warn, and Republicans including Newt Gingrich acknowledge, that such a shift would lead to the demise of traditional Medicare as premiums increase.
- Congressional Republicans repealed several components of the ACA designed to help keep Medicare’s costs down, effectively driving up costs for the program. By repealing the requirement that most people have insurance, Congressional Republicans knowingly voted for a measure expected to increase the number of uninsured. The 2018 Medicare Trustees Report predicts that this increase will increase the share of subsidies paid to hospitals via Medicare. Similarly, by repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, Congressional Republicans took away a mechanism that slowed Medicare cost growth.