House Republicans say they care about Medicare — but not if they have to vote for it
They’re silent on whether they will support a Democratic-sponsored bill to avoid slashing the program.
The House of Representatives will vote this week on a bill to stop billions in automatic cuts to Medicare. GOP lawmakers who previously railed against the cuts are now silent on whether they’ll back the legislative fix.
The bill is authored and co-sponsored by Democratic House committee chairs: Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth, Agriculture Committee Chair David Scott, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, and Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal. Not a single Republican has signed on as a co-sponsor so far.
Last week, congressional Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to help curb the coronavirus pandemic and fix the economic damage it has caused — without a single Republican vote in favor.
Because that legislation increases the deficit, a provision of a 2010 law designed to cut federal spending could automatically force cuts to Medicare, farm subsidies, and other programs. According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, this would mean $36 billion in Medicare cuts and tens of billions of dollars in reductions to other programs.
This bill would waive those cuts — a move Kentucky Rep. Yarmuth said should be treated as a nonpartisan technical correction.
“When Republicans used reconciliation to pass tax cuts for the rich, Democrats voted with them to … protect Medicare and other programs despite our strong opposition to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” he said in a press statement on Friday. “This legislation should have the same outcome, but if Republicans play political games and don’t do their jobs, Medicare and the seniors that depend on it will pay the price.”
But while at least 19 House Republicans cited the possible Medicare cuts as part of their rationale for opposing the $1.9 trillion relief bill, none are saying whether they will back the bill to avert them.
Only spokespersons for two of the 19 responded to a request for comment.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
McCarthy (CA) tweeted on March 11, “The American people deserve better than Biden and Pelosi’s political payoff scheme. It causes $36 billion in cuts to Medicare.”
Bacon (NE) tweeted on March 10, “The Budget Committee said the ‘COVID’ bill will cut $3B from Nebraska Medicare. This totally partisan $1.9T bill comes when $1T has not been spent from previous relief bills.”
Brady (TX) tweeted on Feb. 11, “Punish health care heroes? #WaysandMeans Democrat’s partisan Covid bill cuts Medicare funding by $18 billion or more. Who is hurt? Doctors, nurses, health care heroes, nursing homes, hospitals.”
Buck (CO) tweeted on March 12: “The spike in deficit spending from House Democrats coronavirus aid package would trigger $381 billion in cuts to Medicare annually for the next five fiscal years, via the Congressional Budget Office. Translation: Democrats are taking away your healthcare during a pandemic.”
Burchett (TX) tweeted on March 10, “The American taxpayers just got hosed for $1.9 trillion and Tennessee seniors got $8.4 billion cut from Medicare in the so called #CovidRelief bill.”
Buchanan (FL) tweeted on Feb. 27, “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warned this week that Pelosi’s bill could trigger a $36 billion cut in Medicare funding.”
Burgess (TX) tweeted on March 1, “Besides not being compliant with the ‘Byrd Rule,’ Dems $1.9 trillion #COVID19 bill could lead to cuts in Medicare and raising fees for student loans.”
Carter (GA) tweeted on March 4, “GA is the worst-hit state under the Pelosi Payoff because it rewards blue state lockdowns while punishing hardworking Georgians and seniors. If this plan becomes law, GA seniors will be hit with an $11.5b Medicare cut. Our senators from GA can and should stop this very bad deal.”
A spokesperson for Carter told the American Independent Foundation that the congressman had commented, “Democrats should not have cut Medicare on the backs of our seniors to pay for their partisan bill in the first place.” Notably, in 2017 Carter voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and for the legislation that waived the billions of dollars in automatic cuts to Medicare that it would have otherwise resulted in.
Crawford (AR) tweeted on March 3, “Arkansas seniors will face the brunt of the damage due to the President’s bailout bill. Seniors stand to endure Medicare cuts of approximately $4.7 billion over ten years. AR will also get $390 million LESS in direct Medicare funding. How is this bill good for AR, again?”
Diaz-Balart (FL) tweeted on March 10, “If this fake #COVID bill becomes law Florida’s seniors will be hit with a $30.8B Medicare cut over 10 years.”
Duncan (SC) tweeted on Feb. 26, “Another reason to oppose the ‘COVID-19 relief’ bill – It could cause $36 billion in cuts to the Medicare Program to offset the Democrats reckless spending on their radical priorities that are unrelated to COVID-19.”
Ferguson (GA) tweeted on March 10, “Georgians are being robbed left, right, and center by Pelosi’s Payoff to Progressives. It’s unimaginable that our two new Senators – Warnock and Ossoff – voted to cut Medicare funding by $11.2 billion for Georgia’s seniors. It’s just plain wrong.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene
Greene (GA) tweeted on Feb. 24, “The Biden Bailout cuts healthcare for seniors on Medicare. Under Statutory PAYGO, the plan will cause an approximately $30 billion cut to the Medicare program every year starting in 2022 and continuing for next 10 years. Why would Grandpa Joe hurt seniors?”
A spokesperson for Greene said her office would not “respond to requests from ‘journalists’ with pronouns in their signature.”
Herrell (NM) tweeted on Feb. 27, “Democrats wouldn’t cut their earmarks for a Silicon Valley subway and a bridge to Canada, but their COVID bill triggers cuts to your Medicare,” referencing two infrastructure provisions later stripped from the final version of the bill.
Johnson (LA) tweeted on March 8, “More important data that every Louisianian should see: The #PelosiPayoff will cut Medicare for Louisiana’s seniors by $649 MILLION per year for TEN years. Calling this a ‘rescue plan’ is a sham.”
Rosendale (MT) tweeted on March 9, “The Democrats’ $1.9 trillion stimulus spends an exorbitant amount on far-left priorities but still manages to take money from Montana seniors. Their bill will slash $1.6 BILLION from our state’s Medicare over 10 years… This means about a $168 MILLION cut every year. No way!”
Schweikert (AZ) tweeted on March 3, “ARIZONA SENIORS: The $1.9 Trillion Biden Bailout would result in a $8.1 Billion Cut to Medicare in our state if signed into law.”
Smith (MO) tweeted on Feb. 17, “As a result of Biden’s bailout package, $30 BILLION will be cut from Medicare next year alone. $30 BILLION. These cuts will be devastating for our seniors and the providers who care for them.”
Smucker (PA) tweeted on March 6, “President Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Bailout will trigger $17.2 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare over the next decade. These cuts will hurt Pennsylvania’s seniors.”
A spokesperson for the House Budget Committee said she is optimistic the final vote will be bipartisan. “Presumably no one wants to see these critical programs upended, especially amid this once-in-a-generation crisis, and it is our hope that the votes will reflect that.” she said in an email to The American Independent Foundation.
Updated with comments from the House Budget Committee and Rep. Buddy Carter.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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