Healthcare groups object to Medicare cuts in trade bill

Healthcare groups object to Medicare cuts in trade bill
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Leading healthcare provider groups are objecting to Medicare cuts being used to help pay for a new House Republican trade bill. 

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill helps workers displaced by trade and provides a tax credit to help pay for health insurance. It was rolled out in addition to a proposal to give President Obama “fast-track” authority on trade. 

The healthcare providers object to the TAA bill including a 0.25 percent cut in Medicare payments in fiscal year 2024, which amounts to a $700 million cut, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

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The move adds to the 2 percent cut that came as part of the sequester passed in 2011. 

“Hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and home health and hospice providers have already absorbed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to the Medicare program in recent years,” says a letter to lawmakers Tuesday from the provider groups. “Additionally alarming is the use of Medicare cuts to pay for non-Medicare related legislation, a precedent that we believe is unwise.”

The letter is signed by the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Health Care Association (the skilled nursing trade group) and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. 

A spokesman for House Ways and Means Committee Republicans did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter. 

“We urge Congress to strike this provision from the legislation,” the letter continues. “Reductions to Medicare payments have real impacts on patients and providers.

In addition to the $700 million in Medicare cuts, offsets for the roughly $2.8 billion cost of the TAA include customs user fees and cuts to the child tax credit for certain taxpayers.  

Trade has divided Democrats, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a leading liberal critic, blasted the child tax credit cuts Monday.