Pressure Mounts to Remove Medicare Cuts from Trade Legislation
Reports Indicate Congressional Leaders have Agreed to Remove Medicare Cuts
June 10, 2015 10:18 AM
With a growing number of lawmakers in the U.S. House expressing opposition to the use of Medicare cuts to pay for the cost of legislation reauthorizing the Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA), the latest reports indicate it is increasingly likely the Medicare cuts will be removed from the legislation.
As previously reported, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) partnered with other health care and senior groups in order to oppose a provision in the TAA legislation that cuts Medicare to offset the cost of the bill. Subsequently, several members of Congress expressed their opposition to the Medicare cuts by circulating a letter addressed to House Speak John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Senate passed the trade legislation last month, but the House has yet to act with many representatives on both sides of the aisle expressing opposition.
Now, according to information received by NAHC, House leaders have agreed in principle to removing the Medicare cuts and replacing them with a separate offset, in what would be a huge victory for health care and senior advocates. According to POLITICO, House leaders have decided to offset the bill by increasing tax penalties on companies that file incorrect 1099 tax returns and stepping up enforcement of fraudulent higher education tax credit claims.
The reports of the removal of the Medicare cuts followed a loudening chorus of disapproval this week. In a press conference, Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said there is a “groundswell” of opposition to the Medicare cuts.
“Medicare is not an ATM machine to be used by Republicans in the House or Senate looking for an offset,” Schakowsky said, according to a report by Bloomberg BNA. “I'm feeling optimistic that this is not going to be acceptable in the House of Representatives, perhaps for different reasons for Republicans and Democrats, and I think there's a very realistic chance it will fail.”
Without the removal of the Medicare cuts, it is unclear how many Democrats would vote in favor of the bill as currently drafted. At least 59 representatives have signed the letter to Pelosi and Boehner expressing their opposition. Many Republicans also oppose the trade measure not because of the Medicare cuts but due to their opposition to the underlying program that provides assistance to workers displaced due to trade agreements.
NAHC and other groups have argued that using Medicare cuts in non-Medicare legislation sets a dangerous precedent and they should be removed from the underlying bill.
Please use the NAHC Legislative Action Center to encourage your representatives to oppose the use of Medicare reductions in the trade bill.