Hatch calls for Medicare, Medicaid reforms to address deficit

On Wednesday, the House passed a measure, H.R. 325, which would suspend the debt ceiling through mid-May, but if the Senate fails to pass a budget by April 15, senators wouldn’t receive their paychecks. Senate Democrats have said they would gladly take up and pass the House debt-ceiling bill.

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Hatch said he hopes the Budget Committee seriously looks at entitlement reform, specifically Medicare and Medicaid, because those costs will rise as baby boomers enroll in the programs. He said those two programs alone would cost the federal government $12 trillion during the next 10 years if no changes are made.

Hatch proposed five changes including raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and allowing competitive biding for Medicare health coverage. Democrats have argued that increasing the eligibility age would actually cost the Medicare program more money because it would take healthier people out of the coverage pool.

"I know that it is popular to talk in abstractions around here when it comes to reforming our entitlement programs," Hatch said. "My proposals, which have all had bipartisan support, would sustain these important programs for generations to come."

Republicans have been calling for changes to entitlement program as a way to reduce the deficit, while Democrats have said there is still some tax revenue available by closing loopholes.