The Senate May 22 voted 62 to 37 to approve major trade legislation, H.R.1314, which would impose additional sequestration cuts on Medicare.
The legislation includes language that 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. The TAA program provides funding for labor training for workers who are certified for having lost their jobs because of foreign competition.
The AHA, American Medical Association, American Health Care Association, and National Association for Home Care & Hospice have 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. “Additionally alarming is the use of Medicare cuts to pay for non-Medicare related legislation, a precedent that we believe is unwise.”
The House is expected to consider the legislation after it returns in June from a 10-day break that began May 21.
The Senate's approval of the so-called "fast-track" legislation could make it easier for the administration to complete a wide-ranging trade deal that would include 11 Pacific Rim nations.