Good news for Medicare beneficiaries – the massive cuts to Medicare that were feared as a result of the tax bill will not happen next year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised Senator Susan Collins that he would stop an automatic spending cut to Medicare next year required by the Pay-go rule. Pay-go rules require sweeping spending cuts for bills that cut taxes without offsetting of those costs. This rule has been waived 16 times in the past, and it can be waived again.
Collins said she wouldn’t have voted for the Republican tax bill if it was going to incite $25 billion in cuts to Medicare.
The Senate’s version of the tax reform bill was passed early Saturday morning December 2. The House passed their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on November 16.
Lawmakers, including Senator Marco Rubio, have discussed the restructuring of Social Security and Medicare in the future, but there will be no massive cuts at this time.
Opposition to the Tax Bills
Although this is good news, many organizations still oppose the tax bill and what it could mean for older people.
The Medicare Rights Center has openly opposed the House and Senate’s tax bills as they “would diminish health and long-term care availability and affordability for older adults and people with disabilities.”
The Medicare Rights Center cites the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in the Senate’s tax bill (eliminating the fine people would face if they remain uninsured). This repeal could result in less people having insurance and in higher premiums overall. And in the House bill, the elimination of the medical expense tax deduction would hurt older people, those with disabilities, and their families.
In addition, the AARP claims that the Senate tax bill could lead to higher taxes for 1.2 million seniors in 2019.
This week, lawmakers are meeting to resolve differences in the House and Senate-passed bills. The goal is to get a finished bill to President Trump by Christmas.