Senate Passes Trade Bill Containing Medicare Reductions
May 29, 2015 09:41 AM
Before adjourning for recess last week, the U.S. Senate on a 62-37 vote passed a trade bill that, as NAHC previously reported, includes reductions to Medicare payments as a pay-for to partially offset the bill’s cost. NAHC, along with many other stakeholders, sent a letterto members of Congress strongly opposing the inclusion of the Medicare reductions in the non-Medicare-related trade legislation as setting a concerning precedent.
The fate of the legislation now rests with the U.S. House where its success is far from assured. While the legislation barely secured enough votes to pass the Senate, there may be even stronger opposition to the bill in the House. Last week, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN-5) and Raúl M. Grijalvasent (D-AZ-3), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, circulated a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi expressing specific opposition to the Medicare reductions.
“While it is clear we need Trade Adjustment Assistance, it is not clear why the offset should be extended budget limitations on Medicare, as proposed,” Ellison and Grijalvasent wrote in the letter. “More than 50 million seniors rely on Medicare; we should be investing in the trust fund, not using savings to fund other programs.”
In addition, many conservative lawmakers oppose the legislation due to their stated distrust of President Barack Obama who has formed an odd coalition with many pro-trade Republicans in making the bill a top priority for his administration. The legislation grants President Obama the authority to complete the trade negotiations known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Many conservative groups and members of Congress have expressed reservations about giving him such authority.
The legislation would need to receive 217 votes in the House for passage, and according to reports only an estimated 25 Democrats are expected to support the legislation, which means it would need to receive support from the vast majority of the Republican caucus. So far it is unclear how many Republicans, like Jordan, will oppose the legislation, but the significant opposition within the Republican caucus is undoubtedly a concern for the bill’s proponents.
Please use the NAHC Legislative Action Centerto encourage your representatives to oppose the use of Medicare reductions in the trade bill.