Democrats, Republicans clash over healthcare in budget plans

Healthcare spending sits at the center of some of the deepest conflicts between Democratic and Republican budget proposals in the House and Senate.

While the proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) repeals the Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid expansion and subsidies for buying insurance through health insurance exchanges, the budget proposal from Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) includes $275 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, Kaiser Health News noted in a summary of news coverage.

Ryan's budget includes $756 billion in Medicaid cuts, saving money by limiting growth in the program and apportioning the money to states in the form of block grants, according to The New York Times. In all, the Republican budget cuts $1.8 trillion from Medicaid over 10 years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

As for the Democrats, the LA Times termed their proposed cuts to healthcare spending "modest," consisting primarily of expanding Medicare savings enacted with the Affordable Care Act and trimming Medicaid.

"That is a responsible approach. It's a balanced and fair approach. It's the one endorsed by bipartisan groups and experts, and it's the one supported by the vast majority of the American people," Murray said Wednesday, reported USA Today.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, disagreed about the budget being fair and balanced. "They're using that phrase, but their plan absolutely never balances. Using those vague phrases allows them to avoid being held accountable."

The parties "agree that healthcare spending underlines the government's fiscal imbalances," as government  health costs continue to grow along with the aging population, the LA Times noted.

To learn more:
- read the New York Times article
- see the Kaiser Health News summary
- here's the LA Times article
- check out the USA Today story