Senate Democrats' budget focuses on cost savings through the Affordable Care Act

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Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) unveiled a proposed budget Wednesday, offering a plan that contrasts with the one offered earlier in the week by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

The Democratic budget would restore funding eliminated through the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester, which included a 2% reduction in Medicare payments set to take effect April 1. Despite restoring this spending, the budget would raise revenue and cut spending in other areas to reduce the deficit by $1.85 trillion within 10 years, according to Murray.

Murray's budget calls for $275 billion in healthcare spending cuts, mainly from Medicare. While the Ryan budget is based on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the Democrats say their reductions in healthcare spending would come through programs in the ACA, such as realigning incentives by encouraging more coordinated care. The savings in the budget would be in addition to a $500 billion reduction in Medicare costs through 2020 already predicted by the Congressional Budget Office.

The Ryan budget would make Medicare into a voucher program, and turn Medicaid into a block-grant program, to achieve an estimated $2.5 trillion in healthcare-related savings over 10 years.

In their budget, the Democrats lambast this approach, saying it would effectively “dismantle” Medicare while shifting Medicaid costs onto states.