Medicare, Medicaid fight could take center stage after debt ceiling extension

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Medicare and Medicaid funds could face steep cuts in the House of Representatives' 2014 budget. GOP congressional leaders have promised dramatic spending reductions to rally conservative support for a three-month extension of the nation's debt ceiling without the condition of spending cuts. With a debt ceiling extension approved, legislators likely would tackle sequestration cuts scheduled to take effect March 1.

Long-term care operators have a stake in any changes to Medicare and Medicaid, which together pay for more than 70% of annual long-term care costs, according to the SCAN Foundation.

Since House Republicans proposed a short-term extension of the current $16.4 trillion debt limit last Friday, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has been trying to whip up support for a vote that would likely take place next week. To woo the far right wing of the caucus, Boehner agreed to develop a 2014 budget that would balance within a decade.

To put that goal into context, a controversial 2013 budget proposed by Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) included sweeping changes to healthcare entitlement programs, including Medicaid caps and partial Medicare privatization. But it would not have balanced the budget for nearly 30 years.

Republican lawmakers poised to propose deep cuts to entitlement programs are at odds with the White House. Delivering his inaugural address Monday, President Barack Obama said “hard choices” will have to be made to cut healthcare spending, but he reaffirmed his commitment to Medicare and Medicaid.
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