Azar Tries Again To Defend Trump’s Billions In Health Care Cuts

Today, Alex Azar is once again testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he’s having to answer for Trump’s disastrous budget cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, and public health programs. If Azar’s previous testimony is any indicator, we already know that he’ll fail to defend Trump’s billions in health care cuts.

During previous testimony, Azar said an ACA replacement plan was not necessary until after the law was overturned leaving millions without coverage. 

The Hill: “Democrats are seething at President Trump’s top health official Thursday for not having a backup plan in case the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is overturned in a pending lawsuit supported by the Department of Justice (DOJ).   Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar told senators during a hearing Thursday a plan is not needed until the ‘final judgment’ is made in the lawsuit.”

After Trump promised repeatedly not to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, his latest budget proposes billions in cuts to all three.

Vox: “Trump vowed to not cut Social Security and Medicare — hours before proposing just that”

Washington Post: “The budget would cut Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and also wring savings from Medicare despite Trump’s repeated promises to safeguard Medicare and Social Security.”

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “The budget would require all states to take coverage away from adult Medicaid enrollees who don’t meet work requirements, a policy that would apply to millions of people on top of those covered through the expansion. In Arkansas, the one state that fully implemented such a policy before a court blocked it, nearly 1 in 4 people subject to it lost coverage.”

Trump’s budget proposes massive cuts to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, while his administration supports a lawsuit to overturn the entire ACA without a replacement plan.

New York Times: “Taken together with Medicaid changes recommended elsewhere in the budget, the proposal would strip about $1 trillion out of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies, the two pillars of the law’s expansion of insurance coverage.”

New York Times: “The administration is backing legal action pressing to declare the entire health law unconstitutional, and if it wins in court, the result could be a wave of disruption as an estimated 20 million Americans lose health insurance, insurance consumer protections crumble, drug approval pathways disappear, and Medicare fraud statutes are weakened, among many other effects. Mr. Trump’s budget gives no indication of how he would ameliorate such repercussions.”

Trump’s budget fails to offer an actual plan to lower prescription drug prices.

Modern Healthcare: “President Donald Trump on Monday unveiled his fiscal 2021 budget plan to Congress, which is devoid of details on two of the most prominent healthcare policy issues on the 2020 campaign trail: large-scale healthcare reform and prescription drug pricing.”

Trump’s budget would gut HHS funding by 9%, including cutting 16% from the CDC, and slashing funds from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.

Washington Post: “The budget would allot about $96 billion in discretionary spending — a 9 percent decrease — at HHS.”

Washington Post: “The budget request would trim funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by almost 16 percent.”

Washington Post: “The budget proposes to give the National Institutes of Health … about $3 billion less than the total NIH has this fiscal year. Priorities at NIH under Trump include research on the opioid epidemic and stimulants such as methamphetamine, developing a universal flu vaccine, and the second year of a childhood cancer initiative.”

Washington Post: “The president, as he has in the past, proposed a major cut — about $560 million — for the National Cancer Institute.”