Biden and divided Congress seek common ground on health care reforms

President Biden’s budget proposal includes ambitious measures to reduce health care costs, but the divided government poses a daunting challenge to those proposals, and lawmakers have yet to indicate where they are prepared to rally. .

Biden’s budget proposes to increase discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by $14.8 billion over 2023, raise taxes for people earning more than $400,000 a year to maintain Medicaid solvency, make ObamaCare tax bonuses permanent, and enact a $35 cap on monthly insulin costs in the commercial market.

Republican leaders have already said a tax hike is off the table, and GOP lawmakers have signaled their desire to cut the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax premiums that Biden is seeking to set in stone. .

While Republicans have yet to release their own budget plan, which Biden was quick to point out when promoting his proposal, they are expected to call for health care spending cuts in certain areas, such as health care. ACA and Medicaid. Programs such as Medicare and Social Security have been deemed irrelevant, but party lawmakers insist cuts are needed to deal with the national debt.

With the House under GOP control, compromises will have to be made for the budget to pass Congress. Democratic senators seemed optimistic on Thursday that they could come together with their Republican colleagues on a few issues.

Sen. Ben Ray Luján (DN.M.) said he was not aware of any measures Republicans had yet shown themselves open to considering, but indicated that the ACA tax credits were those where he felt bipartisanship could occur.

“There are voters in every one of our states who benefit from these credits, and when I hear all of my colleagues talking about the issues that voters are facing, every one of us is concerned about the higher costs and regardless of the space,” Luján said. “As a stroke survivor, I can tell you how important it is to have access to care. It is life-saving. »

Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, expressed a degree of confidence in several issues on which he thought the two parties could get along.

“I was pleased to see good, solid investments in technology at the border that can be used to keep fentanyl out and this should be a place where we can work together,” Kaine said. “Some of the babysitting stuff, we have good, solid ones [Republican] vote on that with an omni last year, so there may be possibilities there.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he appreciates the effort and amount of measures Biden put into his budget.

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“A lot of them that I disagree with. On the health care front, we’re going through them, so I don’t have an answer yet,” Romney said.

When asked which Biden health care proposals he was willing to consider, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he wanted to see extensions to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which were not included in the president’s budget.

HSAs are savings accounts into which pre-tax dollars can be paid for eligible medical expenses. Individuals can only contribute to HSAs if they have a high-deductible health plan. In December, Paul introduced legislation that would allow more people to contribute to HSAs, whether or not they have insurance, and also expand the expenses to which HSA contributions could be allocated.

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