Senate budget deal to provide new funding for Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare
The $3.5 trillion budget deal reached by Senate Democrats will include funding for a range of major health care priorities, from expanding Medicare and Medicaid to extending enhanced ObamaCare subsidies.
The proposal will also be paid for in part by lowering prescription drug prices, according to a senior Democratic aide.
While the budget sets the general parameters, the details of the proposals remain to be worked out by lawmakers ahead of a final package, which will use the legislative process known as reconciliation to sidestep a GOP filibuster. The contents could also change as the legislation is crafted.
The budget deal would provide funding to add dental, hearing and vision coverage to Medicare, a major expansion pushed by progressives like Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the aide said.
It will also fund a program to expand Medicaid in the 12 holdout states that have so far declined to accept ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid, though the details of how this federal workaround will work are unclear.
The budget will provide funding to help provide care for seniors at home, known as “home and community-based services,” and will extend enhanced ObamaCare subsidies that help lower enrollees’ premiums, which were funded for two years in the American Rescue Plan earlier this year, the aide said.
Lowering prescription drug prices, a long-held priority of Democrats, will help provide an important source of funding for these moves. The exact amount of the savings is not yet clear, as lawmakers are trying to work out a deal between progressives and moderates on how sweeping the drug pricing legislation will be.
Another priority of progressives — lowering the eligibility age for Medicare to 60 — is not expected to be included in the deal, though Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Wednesday she is still pushing for it to be added.
The parameters of the deal could change as Democrats look to maneuver it through the Senate and appease key moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).