A bipartisan deficit-reduction measure introduced in March has begun drawing the heaviest criticism from liberal Democrats for its impact on Medicaid, even as several of the growing number of higher-profile debt plans offered in recent weeks also would affect the program.
Bill to cap federal spending draws fire
The low-profile bill (PDF) by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) would cap all federal spending—including Medicare and Medicaid—and require across-the-board cuts in all programs to reduce federal spending from 24.7% of gross domestic product to 20.6% over 10 years. The criticism is even stronger than that directed at a deficit-reduction plan recently passed by the House of Representatives, which would cap the program's growth by turning it into block grants.
“The result is worse” than the House Republican budget's cuts to Medicaid, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said at a news conference Wednesday. “It's a global cap, and Medicaid is the biggest program, so guess who gets hit hardest?”
Paul Van De Water, a senior fellow at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday that in the first nine years, the Corker-McCaskill bill would cut Medicare by an estimated $860 billion and Medicaid by $550 billion.
The Corker-McCaskill approach has quietly gathered support from 12 moderate Democrat and Republican co-sponsors, even as proposals by President Barack Obama, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) chairman of the Budget Committee, and the so-called gang of six senators have garnered heavy media coverage.
A House companion measure also has garnered eight Democratic and Republican co-sponsors.
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