House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is eyeing spending cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; Louisiana's Medicaid program reported lower-than-expected spending and a potential surplus; ACA enrollment continues to climb, but expected to fall short of 2017 due to shorter enrollment period.
One of the ways House Republicans will try to trim the federal deficit is through cuts to spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare programs. According to The Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, identified Medicare and Medicaid as “big drivers of debt” and has been speaking to President Donald Trump about cutting those entitlements. Trump promised not to cut funding to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, but he is reportedly warming up to the idea. Ryan is joined by other GOP leaders who are interested in cutting entitlement spending, including Senators Marco Rubio, of Florida, and Orrin Hatch, of Utah, and Representative Jeb Hensarling, of Texas.
Meanwhile, Louisiana has reported that its Medicaid program is spending at a slower pace than expected. As a result, the state could have a surplus, which the chief of staff of the state’s Department of Health believes shows the program’s spending is not growing out of control, reported AP. The less-than-expected spending seems to stem from Medicaid expansion, which has driven people to cheaper primary care and improved access to care for people who were uninsured before the state expanded the program.
Although more people are signing up each week for Affordable Care Act coverage, the overall enrollment numbers for 2018 are still expected to fall sort of 2017’s total. Reuters reported that 3.6 million people have signed up using HealthCare.gov, but with the enrollment period cut in half, total enrollment is expected to be down 20%. One analyst predicted that sign-ups on the federal and state exchanges would be less than 10 million compared with 12.2 million in 2017. However, some of the states that run their own exchanges have enrollment periods that are weeks longer than the federal open enrollment.