Waxman urges supercommittee to leave Medicaid and Medicare alone, extend drug rebates

The letter is written by Waxman in his capacity as the ranking member, not in the name of Energy and Commerce Democrats. That raises the possibility that some of his fellow lawmakers may not be on board with every recommendation in the letter.

The letter says Congress has already cut billions of dollars in spending, so "the majority" of the supercommittee's deficit reduction "should be composed of revenues to balance the spending cuts already enacted."

Waxman's letter goes on to argue that the healthcare reform law made profound changes to the Medicare program to keep it solvent, so it would be "premature" for the supercommittee to make further changes before they're implemented and "irresponsible" to cut public programs when "there are deep concerns regarding healthcare cost increases in the private sector."

The letter then goes through a usual list of liberal demands:

• Extend Medicaid drug rebates to cover low-income people on Medicare (saves $135 billion over 10 years);

• Restrict so-called "pay-for-delay" deals between brand-name drugmakers and generic manufacturers (saves $3 billion);

• Root our waste, fraud and abuse.

The letter also urges the supercommittee to preserve the health law's investments in prevention and calls for any health savings to go toward repealing the Medicare physician payment system.

The supercommittee should "not pursue policies that would undermine coverage for Medicare, Medicaid, or people who will enroll in health insurance through exchanges," the letter states, and "must resist the temptation to reduce federal health care costs by passing these costs to other payers who are even less able to afford them."

Read the letter below:

Waxman Super Committee Letter