Also Thursday, House members passed the fiscal 2014 budget resolution that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced last week. As expected, the vote fell along party lines, with 221 Republicans favoring the bill and 197 Democrats opposing it.
Ten Republicans voted against Ryan's plan, which would offer a premium-support structure in Medicare starting in 2024 that allows beneficiaries to choose from a list of options that includes private health plans and traditional fee-for-service Medicare. It would also cut more than $750 billion from Medicaid over 10 years and transition the program into block grants for the states. A spokesman for the American Hospital Association said last week that the AHA opposes Ryan's proposal in large part because it would keep more than $716 billion in Medicare cuts that the Affordable Care Act called for, but would not maintain the coverage expansions that the law created.
On the House floor before the lower chamber passed his spending blueprint, Ryan called the recent budget debate “constructive” because it revealed the priorities of both political parties.
“We want to strengthen programs like Medicare,” Ryan said. “They seem complicit in their demise. We see Obamacare as a roadblock to patient-centered reform. They see it as a sacred cow. We think national security is a top priority. They want to hollow out our military. We offer modernization and reform, growth and opportunity,” he continued. “They cling to the status quo.”
The Senate is expected to vote on its own budget for next year—which Senate Budget Committee Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced last week—before members leave Washington for a two-week spring recess.