Finance

House to advance bill preventing automatic Medicare cuts

House Democrats are planning to advance a bill that would stop automatic spending cuts to programs such as Medicare next week, a necessary step after President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package into law Thursday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced the legislation Thursday.

“The House will consider legislation to ensure that we preclude cuts to Medicare, as well as farm supports and other programs implicated by sequestration,” he said.

Statutory pay-as-you-go laws require that legislation that increases the deficit be offset. Without offsets, automatic spending cuts from mandatory programs, known as sequestration, go into effect.

While programs such as Social Security are exempt, Medicare can lose up to 4 percent and a slew of means-tested anti-poverty programs could be wiped out without action.

Without a law to reset the pay-as-you-go amounts, the massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief measure would require the White House Office of Management and Budget to issue a report at the end of the calendar year that would trigger the sequestration.

Republicans faced a similar problem when they passed their $1.9 trillion tax cut in 2017, requiring legislation to waive the pay-as-you-go law.

Democrats joined to pass that bill despite vociferous opposition to the tax cuts.

 

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