In further proof that Republicans are not giving up their push to enact major changes to healthcare policy, House Speaker Paul Ryan has signaled that the party will focus on cutting Medicare and Medicaid spending next year.
“We’re going to get back, next year, at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an interview with conservative talk show host Ross Kaminsky.
In addition to welfare, it’s the “healthcare entitlements”—Medicare and Medicaid—that are the major targets, Ryan said, reasoning that they are some of the biggest drivers of national debt, alongside military spending.
As evidenced by a 2015 tweet, President Donald Trump pledged as a candidate not to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, but the GOP’s legislative attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act would have slashed Medicaid funding drastically.
Both the president and GOP lawmakers have pledged to revisit that legislation in 2018, and Ryan noted he’s making headway with convincing Trump to back Medicare cuts.
“I think the president’s understanding [that] choice and competition works everywhere in healthcare, especially in Medicare,” he said.
But while Ryan contended that entitlement reform was the logical next step after passing a tax bill that reduces revenue, Democrats don’t see it that way. They argue that Republicans only want to cut key government programs to make up for the fact that their tax bill is estimated to increase the deficit by at least $1 trillion over a decade.
Republicans’ tax bill will also have healthcare policy implications. The Senate’s version of the bill repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, and House conservatives have said they want that provision to make it into the final draft of the legislation.