Mar 12, 2019 - Health

Trump's budget proposal includes Obama-era health care plans

A split screen of former President Obama and President Trump, who are both speaking.

Photo Left: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images, Photo Right: Alex Edelman via Pool/Getty Images

Democrats are already giddy over the opportunity to criticize Trump's budget for cutting more than $800 billion from Medicare.

Reality check: Yes, the budget proposes reducing Medicare spending by more than $800 billion over a decade. But these are not reductions in seniors' benefits. They are (theoretical) cuts in Medicare's payments to health care providers, mainly hospitals.

Flashback: In 2012, the Romney campaign hammered the Affordable Care Act for cutting almost $800 billion from Medicare, and President Obama fought back on the grounds that cutting provider payments was not the same as cutting benefits.

Between the lines: Some of Trump's specific cuts are bipartisan.

  • Trump's budget projects about $260 billion in savings from policies designed to stop hospitals from boosting their payments by buying up doctors' practices — an idea Obama also embraced.
  • Some savings would come from the administration's plans to lower Medicare's spending on prescription drugs.

You can choose your hypocrite here — Democrats are criticizing something they've done; Republicans are doing something they've criticized.

  • My thought bubble: Providers and policymakers can duke it out over whether this or that payment reduction is bearable or not. But on the politics, Obama had a point in 2012 and the White House has a point now.
  • If you think health care in the U.S. is too expensive, solving that problem means somebody has to get less money.

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