Bush Rebuts Democrats’ Medicare ‘Raid’ Charge
President Bush yesterday "defended" his 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut amid criticism from Democrats that the plan has "imperiled" the Medicare Part A and Social Security trust funds, the AP/Richmond Times Dispatch reports (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/22). The White House Office of Management and Budget today will release new FY 2001 budget estimates that are expected to project a $158 billion surplus, down from the $281 billion estimated earlier this year (Goldstein, Washington Post, 8/22). However, excluding Social Security, the projections will likely "show that the Medicare surplus -- like all but about $1 billion of the rest of the general-revenue surplus -- is gone," the AP/Times-Dispatch reports (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/22). The Congressional Budget Office next week will release an FY 2001 budget estimate that is expected to "take a more pessimistic view" of FY 2002 than the OMB's figures (Godfrey, Washington Times, 8/22).
Bush yesterday "swore" that "every dime that comes into Medicare will be spent on Medicare," adding, "We're going to make sure additional spending doesn't cut into essential programs like Social Security and Medicare" (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/22). White House counselor Karen Hughes "insist[ed]" that the "Medicare trust fund is fully funded" (Sammon, Washington Times, 8/22). However, Hughes said that Bush used funds in Medicare Part A, which funds hospital, home health, skilled nursing facility and hospice care, to cover a deficit in Medicare Part B, which funds doctors' bills and other outpatient expenses (AP/Investor's Business Daily, 8/22). Although Democrats "insist" that the government should not use Part A funds to cover other costs, the Bush administration "argues" that "it is appropriate" to use the Part A funds to "offset" costs in Part B and to establish a future Medicare prescription drug benefit (Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.