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It’s right to roll back Medicaid’s COVID-19 provisions

 James Rogan

The Congressional Budget Office projects a federal budget deficit of $1.4 trillion for the current fiscal year ending in September 2023. That projected deficit amounts to 5.3% of GDP. Still, President Joe Biden promises to protect Social Security and Medicare , the two principal drivers of the deficit . His proposals for tax increases on the very wealthy and on corporations are dead on arrival in Congress.

Republicans are equally to blame for the impasse.

The Republican leadership has also promised not to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. The Republican-controlled House will not vote to raise taxes. The president and Congress cannot affect monetary policy. That leaves Medicaid. One element of the nation’s broader healthcare inflation crisis , Medicaid spending is growing at almost a double-digit rate to well over $700 billion .

Fortuitously, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, legislation was enacted to reduce a COVID-19-related expansion of Medicaid. Under the COVID expansion, Medicaid spending exploded, up almost 20% in just three years. Federal spending on Medicaid grew from $521 billion in fiscal 2021 to $601 billion in fiscal 2023. Because of the enacted legislation to eliminate the COVID expansion of Medicaid, spending on Medicaid is projected to fall to $545 billion in fiscal 2024, which begins on Oct. 1 of this year. Those are real savings.

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