Sens. Lieberman, Coburn press for big supercommittee cuts to Medicare

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach President Trump’s war on federal waste American patients face too many hurdles in regard to health-care access MORE (R-Okla.) are pressing the deficit-reduction supercommittee to consider their proposal to cut more than $500 billion in Medicare spending over 10 years.
 
Lieberman’s support for Medicare reform is significant because he caucuses with Democrats and holds sway with centrist senators such as Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies first veto after latest clash with Senate GOP MORE (R-Maine) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
 

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Lieberman and Coburn argue that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction cannot adequately deal with the nation’s projected deficits without reforming the healthcare entitlement program.
 
“Federal spending for Medicare and Medicaid has accounted for a sharply rising share of the federal budget over the last decade, making it clear that it will be virtually impossible to balance our country’s finances without bringing the costs of these programs under control,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter Wednesday to the 12 members of the supercommittee.
 
They urged the panel to review the Medicare reform plan they released in June.
 
It would increase the share that beneficiaries pay into the program to account for 35 percent, instead of 25 percent, of Medicare revenues. It would also require higher income earners to pay a greater share of Medicare Part B, which covers doctors’ visits, and Part D, which covers prescription drugs.
 
Lieberman and Coburn would require people 65 and older who make more than $150,000 annually to pay the full cost of Part B coverage, and full premium costs for Part D.
 
“The facts are clear, something must be done to reform Medicare or it will bankrupt the federal government and take America’s finances down with it,” they wrote.
 
They argued their plan would “address many of the imminent fiscal dangers facing the Medicare program.”
 
The Congressional Budget Office estimates their plan would save more than $500 billion over 10 years.
 
The lawmakers wrote that it would reduce Medicare’s 75-year liability by an estimated $10 trillion.
 
If the supercommittee fails to agree on a deficit-reduction package worth at least $1.2 trillion by Nov. 23, it would automatically trigger that amount in cuts to defense and non-defense spending programs.
 
Under this sequestration process, Medicare would receive as much as a 2 percent cut, which lawmakers say would primarily affect healthcare providers and insurance companies.