By JASON P. MILLERWASHINGTON (AP) House Democrats are trying to force Republicans to come to a bipartisan agreement on how to pay for a Medicare program that provides health care for retirees and their dependents.GOP lawmakers have said they want to change the formula, but Democrats are pressing the point that the GOP would like to change its Medicare law as well.
If they can’t reach a deal, Democrats want to move forward with their push for legislation that would provide more options for seniors.
They want to extend eligibility for certain programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and give seniors more choices about which providers they can see.
A key sticking point is the cost of Medicare, which has grown more expensive in recent years.
The program covers more than 4.3 million Americans, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that it would need to increase by $819 billion over 10 years to maintain its current level of $17,000 per person.
Democrats want to ensure the program remains affordable.
They have said that if they can only raise the Medicare payroll tax by $50 billion, they could provide more than $3 trillion in additional savings.
Republicans are likely to oppose any plan that provides additional tax cuts for the wealthy, such as raising taxes on investment income, as long as the spending is not too big to be offset by cuts elsewhere in the government.
They have also said that they would oppose any tax increase that includes an expansion of Medicaid, a program for low-income Americans.
The Democrats say that would increase the cost and burden on the elderly, and would increase costs for people with disabilities and people with pre-existing conditions.