Dancing Under the Debt Ceiling

by | Apr 27, 2023 | Health

The Host

If Congress fails to raise the nation’s debt ceiling in the next few months, the U.S. could default on its debt for the first time in history. Republicans in Congress, however, say they won’t agree to pay the nation’s bills unless Democrats and President Joe Biden agree to deep cuts to health and other programs. Among the proposals in a bill House Republicans passed April 26 is the imposition of new work requirements for adults who receive Medicaid.

Meanwhile, many of the states passing restrictions on abortion are also passing bills to restrict the ability of trans people to get health care. The two movements — both largely aimed at conservative evangelicals, a key GOP constituency — have much in common.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call, Shefali Luthra of The 19th, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

The Republican-controlled House’s proposal to raise the debt ceiling contains enough politically poisonous measures that the plan is a non-starter in the Senate. They include substantial funding cuts to major federal health programs, including the FDA and the National Institutes of Health — cuts that would force the federal government to cut back on grants and other funding.

The proposal would also impose work requirements on adults enrolled in Medicaid — which covers low-income and disabled Americans, as well as pregnant women — and in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps needy families buy food. Under the plan, the government would save money by cutting the number of people helped. But most beneficiaries cannot work or already do so. Experience shows the change would mostly affect people who struggle to report their work hours through what can be complicated online portals.

Multiple congressional committees have released plans to fight high drug costs, promoting efforts to explore how pharmacy benefit managers make decisions about cost and access, as well as to encourage access to cheaper, generic drugs on the market. And during congressional testimony this week, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, said the agency would no longer issue warnings to hospitals that fail to comply with a law that requires them to pos …

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