House and Senate Committees Pass Budget Plans
Proposals Would Repeal Affordable Care Act, Reform Medicare and Medicaid
March 20, 2015 12:05 PM
Both chambers of Congress this week passed out of committee budget proposals for fiscal year 2016. The proposals include provisions to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as well as reforms to Medicare and Medicaid.
The custom is for Congress to pass a “budget resolution” each year in response to the President’s budget proposal. The purpose of the budget resolution is to establish the level of discretionary spending for the coming fiscal year. It also provides an unbinding budget framework for the future decade. While the resolution binds Congress to the level of discretionary spending for the approaching fiscal year, its policy proposals do not have the force of law. As a result, many view the budget resolution as a means for Congress to voice its budgetary goals and priorities.
On Thursday, the House passed out the Budget Committee its budget proposal, “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America.” The proposal would fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and make significant changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
“None of the reforms proposed in this budget will be able to solve the underlying challenges in our health care system so long as Obamacare remains on the books,” the House budget plan states. “Our budget fully repeals Obamacare. This will save over $2 trillion, end the Obamacare raid on Medicare and rescind all of the tax increases on job creators and health care innovation.”
The reforms to Medicare include a permanent repeal of the sustainable growth rate. In addition, the plan would reform Medicare to provide premium support for recipients to choose from a “selection of guaranteed health coverage options.” The premium support reform would start in 2024 so there would be “no changes for those near retirement.”
With regards to Medicaid, the plan would merge Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program into a single grant program. The new program, “State Flexibility Funds,” would “give states greater freedom” and “empower state policymakers to tailor their Medicaid programs” rather than the current “one-size-fits-all approach.”
The Senate plan would also repeal the Affordable Care Act, but it does not include the premium support reform to Medicare. Instead, the Senate plan expresses support for the President’s budget “as a target” for the total amount of Medicare savings without endorsing the President’s specific policy proposals or suggesting specific policies to achieve those savings. The President’s budget called for over $400 billion in Medicare reductions over 10 years.
Both the House and Senate proposals call for repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, an unelected board of presidential appointees to make decisions on reducing Medicare payments. For more information about the effort to repeal the board, please see this previous NAHC Report story.
These budget plans are broadly stated documents for members of Congress to coalesce around and initiate specific legislative measures. NAHC will continue engaging with Congress to address the priorities of home care and hospice providers throughout the budgetary process. For more information about the President’s budget proposal, please see this previous NAHC Report story.
NAHC will continue to provide updates as Congress moves forward with its budgetary process.