Middletown Script: Carper: Beware health care cuts in Trump budget proposal

Sen. Tom Carper , a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, questioned Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar on President Trump’s FY2021 budget proposal to cut HHS funding by nine percent and cut Medicaid and other safety net programs by over $1 trillion.

This slash in funding comes at a time when millions of Americans living with pre-existing conditions could lose their health care coverage as a result of the Trump Administration’s Texas v. Azar lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.

“Over 100 million of our fellow Americans have pre-existing conditions,” said Senator Carper. “These folks depend on the Affordable Care Act’s protections for their health care and the promise of affordable health insurance regardless of their health condition…This budget contains no plans to replace the ACA and, if the court strikes [the law] down, it will leave millions of additional Americans stranded without health insurance.”

President Trump’s FY2021 budget for Health and Human Services would cut the department’s funding by nine percent to $94.5 billion and reduce funding for Medicaid and other safety net programs by more than $1 trillion. The HHS budget includes the following proposals:

‒ Block grant and mandatory work requirements in Medicaid, coupled with other proposals, to cut more than $900 billion in Medicaid over 10 years

Cut $450 billion in Medicare payment to hospitals and other health care providers

‒ Cut more than $40 billion to safety net programs aimed at helping working families, older Americans, and disabled individuals

‒ Provide $135 billion for bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reduce prescription drug prices

‒ $2.6 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health

Carper also highlighted the Finance Committee’s bipartisan Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act, a bill to reduce prescription drug prices. “It’s not every day we have this kind of bipartisan consensus,” said Carper.

“This legislation would lower drug prices for seniors, lower drug prices for Medicare and Medicaid, and require drug companies to publicly justify the prices for their products during a time where we are trying to save pharmaceutical and health care costs in a humane way.”

Carper helped to secure provisions in the legislation that would increase patient feedback on Medicare coverage of new therapies, improve health outcomes for seniors, and strengthen the market for biosimilar drugs.