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Senate GOP eyes deeper Medicaid cuts than House

June 19, 2017

A leading option in the Senate’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace debate is to make even deeper cuts to Medicaid spending than the bill passed by the House, according to lobbyists and aides.

The proposal would start out the growth rate for a new cap on Medicaid spending at the same levels as the House bill, but then drop to a lower growth rate that would cut spending more, known as CPI-U, starting in 2025, the sources said.

That proposal has been sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for analysis, a Senate GOP aide said.

 
The aide said that plan has been described as a “consensus option that has been sent to CBO,” though no final decision has been made yet. Another aide said there are still other options in the mix.Democrats and some more moderate Republicans were already warning about Medicaid cuts in the House-passed bill, which reduces Medicaid spending by more than $800 billion over 10 years.

The CBO found that the House bill would cause 14 million fewer people to be enrolled in Medicaid over 10 years.

More moderate Republican senators could object to the proposal.

Asked about the plan, Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), said: “Rob does not support a growth rate that is lower than the House bill.”

And Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said earlier this month that he did not want the growth rate to be any lower than the House bill’s. Heller is considered the most vulnerable GOP senator on the ballot in 2018.

More conservative senators, however, have been pushing for the lower growth rate as part of an effort to restrain Medicaid spending further.

A separate Medicaid issue — how quickly to phase out the funding for the expansion of the program — remains up in the air. Moderates have pushed for a seven-year phase-out, while leadership has floated three years.

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