Latest News on the Medicare Advantage Program

Does the House bill call Medicare “socialist”?, Democrats ask

With ongoing negotiations over budget cuts as a backdrop, during a hearing discussion Tuesday, Democrats asked whether programs like Medicare and Social Security fall under the language of a Republican’s anti-socialist resolution proposal of the Chamber. Other news from Capitol Hill covers drug prices, veterans’ health and more.
House Democrats pushed Republicans to clarify the implications of a new bill that would denounce the “horrors of socialism” and socialist policies, expressing concern that it could include Medicare and Social Security benefits. The House Rules Committee met Tuesday to discuss the resolution, proposed Jan. 25 by Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.).

Democrats may no longer control the House of Representatives, but Congressman Mark Pocan isn’t giving up on his legislative agenda. Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin and the former co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), focuses on playing “the long game” of policymaking. Pocan’s commitment to promoting progressive policies will be on display Wednesday as he reintroduces the Save Medicare Act. The lawmaker points to his defense of the legislation as an example of how progressives can continue to advance their ideals in a Republican-controlled House and ensure that Democrats will be ready to act when they regain full control of Congress.

A Medicare official hinted Tuesday that Medicare may try a policy of paying less for drugs that receive so-called accelerated approvals than for drugs that receive traditional approvals.

Veterans Affairs leaders would not be able to roll out the department’s new electronic health records system to any additional medical facilities until important safeguards are in place, under legislation introduced Tuesday by House Republicans. “[The system] has crippled the delivery of care, put the safety of veteran patients at risk and stressed an already overwhelmed health care system,” said House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Bost, R- Ill., in a statement accompanying the introduction of the bill.

Because the government typically spends more than it takes in through revenue, it must borrow money to pay for commitments that Congress has already made. So if lawmakers don’t grant more borrowing authority by midsummer, Social Security retirement payments will be on the line. Veterans could lose their vital health and life benefits. Americans whose 401(k) funds are locked up in stocks could see their savings plummet in a global market downturn. Borrowing costs for consumers would also likely rise, potentially plunging the economy into a recession that could stifle job growth and lead to widespread misery.

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