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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pulling out all the stops to get the Republican senators who are not down with killing Medicaid on board his Trumpcare bill. He’s telling them that they can vote safely for it, because the cuts won’t happen because a future Congress will stop them.
Here’s what McConnell has told several hesitant senators (including [Ohio Sen. Rob] Portman and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.): The bill’s deepest Medicaid cuts are far into the future, and they’ll never go into effect anyway.
“He’s trying to sell the pragmatists like Portman, like Capito on ‘the CPI-U will never happen,'” a GOP lobbyist and former Hill staffer told me.
Under the current version of the Senate health-care bill, federal Medicaid spending would drop by 26 percent starting in 2026, pegged to the Urban Consumer Price Index. That’s still eight-and-a-half years away—long past senators’ next
. And cutting Medicaid is so unpopular, with so much resistance from the health-care industry, that it’s likely Congress would find a way to avoid the cuts when the time comes. After all, that’s what Congress did for years by enacting the so-called “Doc Fix” to a Medicare doctors’ payment formula.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because leadership has been saying this for a couple of weeks now. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), McConnell’s second-in-command, said that Medicaid would be “plussed up” later anyway, and one senator seemed to buy the idea. “I don’t think it will ever be instituted,” Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) opined before he came out against the bill.
The end of Medicaid as we know it? No exaggeration. The Senate version of Trumpcare has worse long-term cuts to Medicaid than the House version—all to pay for tax breaks to the wealthy. Call your Republican senator at (202) 224-3121, and give them a piece of your mind. Tell us how it went.