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House Republican Bill Would Force Massive Cuts to Medicare Benefits

The bill would repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, including its $35 insulin cap and other drug cost reduction measures.

Rep. Andy Ogles casts his vote in the House Chamber during the fourth day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2023.

The White House on Saturday condemned a newly introduced Republican bill that would repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, a law that includes a number of changes aimed at lowering costs for Medicare recipients.

Unveiled Thursday by freshman Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tennessee), the bill has 20 original co-sponsors and is endorsed by several right-wing groups, including the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity.

The Biden White House argued that rolling back the Inflation Reduction Act, which also contains major climate investments, would represent “one of the biggest Medicare benefit cuts in American history” as well as a “handout to Big Pharma.” According to Politico, which first reported the White House’s response to the GOP bill, the administration is planning to release “state-by-state data indicating how this would affect constituents in different areas.”

“House Republicans are trying to slash lifelines for middle-class families on behalf of rich special interests,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement. “Who on earth thinks that welfare for Big Pharma is worth selling out over a million seniors in their home state?”

The Inflation Reduction Act authorized a $35-per-month cap on insulin copayments for Medicare recipients, as well as an annual $2,000 total limit on out-of-pocket drug costs.

The bill will also, among other long-overdue changes, allow Medicare to begin negotiating the prices of a subset of the most expensive prescription drugs directly with pharmaceutical companies, which fiercely opposed the law and are working with Republicans to sabotage it. The newly negotiated prices are set to take effect in 2026.

Ogles, whose two-page bill would eliminate the above reforms, repeatedly attacked Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs and protections during his 2022 campaign for the U.S. House.

The White House’s critique of Ogles’ bill comes as Biden is facing pressure from advocates and physicians to cancel a Medicare privatization scheme that his administration inherited from its right-wing predecessor and rebranded.

It also comes as the White House is locked in a standoff with House Republicans over the debt ceiling. Republican lawmakers have pushed for deeply unpopular cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and other critical federal programs as a necessary condition for any deal to raise the country’s borrowing limit and avert a catastrophic default.

“In less than a month, MAGA extremists have threatened to drive the economy into a recession by defaulting on our debt, promised to bring up a bill to impose a 30% national sales tax, and now have introduced legislation to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act,” Patrick Gaspard, president and CEO of the Democratic Party-aligned Center for American Progress said in a statement. “This will cut taxes for corporations who earn billions in profit while empowering Big Pharma and Big Oil to continue ripping off the American people.”

“It is vital that all Americans understand what is at risk if MAGA extremists succeed in passing their latest dangerous idea: millions of lost jobs, millions more without health insurance, and higher costs for lifesaving insulin, utilities, and more,” Gaspard added.

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