President Joe Biden is aiming to use the leadup to the release of his proposed budget next week to sketch a dire picture of what could happen to U.S. health care if congressional Republicans had their way with federal spending.

The Democratic president is traveling to Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Tuesday to discuss potential GOP efforts to cut spending on health care, part of a broader presidential push this week to draw a strong contrast between his administration’s priorities and those of Republicans.

“The bottom line is this: Congressional Republicans have committed themselves to very deep cuts to programs that tens of millions of Americans count on,” Aviva Aron-Dine, deputy director of the National Economic Council, said of Biden’s planned remarks. “And the president believes that they owe the American people transparency about what that will mean, and if they won’t provide it, he will.”

Biden is expected to build on that message in a meeting with House Democrats in Baltimore on Wednesday and before Senate Democrats on Thursday. The effort to highlight major differences with Republicans comes as Biden is expected to launch a reelection campaign this spring.

The president is due to release his budget plan on March 9, promising to trim the national debt by $2 trillion over 10 years without cuts to spending on Democratic priorities like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Biden has challenged House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to publicly issue his own budget proposal. McCarthy is insisting on spending cuts to balance the budget, but he has not provided any specifics, other than ruling out cutbacks in Social Security and Medicare.

In the absence of a specific GOP plan, Biden administration officials are sketching worst-case scenarios for what Republicans might do, based on past statements, including what the White House warns could be deep cuts to Medicaid, which covers roughly 84 million people and has grown by 20 million since January 2020, just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Deep cuts to Medicaid would mean worse coverage, or loss of coverage,” Aron-Dine said, and that would include older adults, people with disabilities and families with children. “There is no overstating how disruptive” cuts would be to the overall healthcare system, she added.

Administration officials also said potential cuts to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act could jeopardize coverage for more than 100 million people with preexisting medical conditions and imperil free preventative care and cut back prescription drug coverage.

However, with Democrats controlling the Senate and Biden in the White House, there is virtually no chance of major GOP health care legislation being enacted.

There are some Republican lawmakers who want to repeal Biden’s 2022 climate change and health care law, known as the Inflation Reduction Act. The law capped insulin costs at $35 per month for older adults on Medicare and enabled the government insurance program to negotiate on prescription drug prices. It also beefed up funding for the IRS and created incentives to move away from fossil fuels.

A majority of adults in the U.S. already say that health care is not handled well in the country, according to a poll last fall from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

And about two-thirds of adults think it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all people have health care coverage, with adults ages 18 to 49 more likely than those over 50 to hold that view. The percentage of people who believe health care coverage is a government responsibility has risen in recent years, ticking up from 57% in 2017 and 62% in 2019.

And about half of U.S. adults think that Medicare and Medicaid should play a larger role in paying for living assistance. But that would mean more government funding, not less.

Looming over the budget debate is a statutory limit on the government’s borrowing authority, which could be breached this summer when extraordinary accounting steps being taken by the Treasury Department to keep the government operating are exhausted.

Biden has said the debt limit should be raised without conditions because it reflects previous spending commitments while McCarthy is pushing for negotiations on the debt that would include spending cuts.

White House officials are trying to draw attention to the lack of an overall blueprint from the GOP. Republican leaders kept their distance from an earlier proposal by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., that would have left Social Security and Medicare up for renewal every five years, along with other federal programs. Scott has now revised his plan to exempt Social Security, Medicare, national security, veterans benefits and other essential services.

Biden hammered the issue during his State of the Union address this month.

(AP)

5 Responses

  1. 1. If they don’t change the formulas used for entitlements, within a few years they will go broke and draconian cuts will occur automatically. At present they are funded by “trust funds” based on seriously out of date assumptions (such as a much lower life expectancy).

    2. Unless we want the Sino-Russian alliance to become overlords of most of the world, US military spending needs to be significantly increased.

    3. Either taxes need to go up, or overall spending needs to come down, or inflation will automatically make up the difference.

  2. Congressional Republicans have committed themselves to very deep cuts to programs that tens of millions of Americans count on

    You just easily rewrite this to say: Congressional Democrats have committed themselves to growing very outrageous amounts of spending that there is no way Americans can count on paying in the future years.

    Bottom line is you can’t just keep on raising and raising the debt celling every few months and expect nothing to happen anywhere down the line. In simple English: If something can’t go on forever it won’t!

  3. Republicans in Congress have failed or refused to offer a federal budget. I am sure they will not do so because all their various proposals add up to an impossible number that cannot be achieved, or would jeopardize popular programs, e.g., Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These programs are critical to rural middle income voters who are a major portion of the Republican electoral base.

  4. There is a universal consensus in Congress, that my supporters taxes should go down, and that my supporters services should be funded and increased. Sooner or later this will collapse, and if the Congress is unwilling to raise taxes or cut expenses, the only alternative is to “print” (albeit electronically, no trees need be cut down for the purpose) sufficient dollars to cover the deficit, and that is what causes inflation. This has nothing to do with “Democrat” or “Republican”.

  5. You all missed the part that it’s the exact same recycled story that’s been told for decades, maybe since at least 1970….with the exception of during the Trump years. Does the world never change in DC?

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