Lampitt Statement on President Trump's Proposed US Department of Education Budget Cuts

Maricruz Casares
Marcha 14, 2019

Congressional Democrats attacked US social safety net changes proposed by President Donald Trump in his 2020 budget plan, with a senior lawmaker on Tuesday saying Trump's cutbacks in programs such as Medicaid and food aid were "intended to do harm".

Senate Democrats reiterated their objections to the cuts the White House proposed this week to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security during a budget committee hearing Wednesday.

As outlined in White House documents, the budget calls for $845 billion in total, or gross, spending reductions to Medicare over 10 years, mainly by cutting future payments to hospitals and other service providers.

But the head of a major hospital association was pushing back, saying in a blog that "arbitrary and blunt" Medicare cuts would have a "devastating" impact on care for seniors.

"Hospitals are less and less able to cover the cost of care for Medicare patients; it is no time to gut Medicare", said Chip Kahn of the Federation of American Hospitals.

If the budget is approved by Congress, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's budget would be reduced by $8.7 billion (16.4%) next year. The White House says that doesn't reflect benefit cuts but makes better use of taxpayers' dollars.

President Donald Trump signed the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul bill into law Friday, capping his and the Republican-controlled Congress' first major legislative victory of 2017. But the budget also serves as a menu of longtime Republican visions for the program, including repealing Medicaid expansion and Obamacare subsidies and giving states a fixed sum of money, known as a block grant, instead.

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"On the one hand, the president is maintaining some opioid funding, but when it gets to the health care system that can really help us in that regard, this budget takes us very far backwards", Hassan continued.

The proposed Medicare cuts are another issue. Because the program is so big, even a single-digit reduction in percent terms can add up to hundreds of billions of dollars over time. However, some of the reduction is from shifting Disproportionate Share Hospital and Graduate Medical Education programs from Medicare to other parts of the HHS budget.

In the entire federal history of the country, Mr. President's budget has come out to be largest. It also wants to slow the growth of payments for skilled nursing, inpatient rehab facilities and home health services, said Tricia Neuman, director, Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A statement from AARP reflected a mix of praise and concern.

The group also said it's concerned about that some of Trump's Medicare drug proposals could create winners and losers among beneficiaries.

"This is something the president said he would never do when he was running for office", Hassan said. "But we must also think about how we can help families to access financial programs, educational opportunities, and higher paying jobs".

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