A day after legislation to renew expired trade promotion authority failed to gain the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle, Senate leaders May 13 reached agreement to move forward on the package of trade bills that would impose additional sequestration cuts on Medicare. 

The legislation would extend the sequester on Medicare to the last six months of 2024 to pay for the cost of extending the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, increasing the amount cut by the sequester by $700 million, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. TAA is a program that, among other things, provides tax credits for the purchase of health insurance to people who lose their health coverage as a result of global trade agreements.

The AHA, the American Medical Association, the American Health Care Association, and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice recently expressed opposition to including the cuts in the package and urged lawmakers to drop the provision.

“Hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and home health and hospice providers have already absorbed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to the Medicare program in recent years," they noted in an April 21 letter to House and Senate lawmakers. “Additionally alarming is the use of Medicare cuts to pay for non-Medicare related legislation, a precedent that we believe is unwise.”

The White House said the trade package remains a top priority and it will continue to work with Congress to pass legislation.