Republicans in the House and Senate unveiled their respective budgets for fiscal year 2016 this week, proposing major changes to health care programs as part of their strategy to balance the federal budget within the next decade. House Republicans presented “Balanced Budget for a Stronger America” on Tuesday, which would privatize Medicare, restructure Medicaid to be based on block-grant distribution to states and repeal the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, the GOP-controlled Senate announced a less specific version of the budget with a similar cost-cutting goal.
The annual drafting of the federal budget tends to survey parties’ ideology and political goals more than it sets a legally binding limit on how much can be spent by a program. In other words, Congress hasn’t decided how it will spend taxpayer dollars on health care for 2016, so for now Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act remain status quo. Any changes that do occur may also be implemented by Congress in stages and are contingent on lawmakers being able to agree across party lines. Disagreement within the Republican party will also influence debate.
The Republican budget is a response to the budget President Obama laid out last month. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health care news and analysis organization, has pulled together parts of the president’s plan that deal with Medicare in an easy to follow article you can read here.
As Congress continues to set the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1, The Agent’s Advantage will keep you updated on possible structural changes to Medicare and other health care programs we work with. Agents working with Medicare Advantage plans, especially C-SNP and D-SNP plans, should pay close attention to developments in Congressional budget debates as they will likely impact them financially if the proposed budgets are passed in their current form.