Toomey to release budget proposal
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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Pat Toomey will release a proposal today to balance the federal budget in nine years, forgoing radical changes to Medicare and Social Security while turning Medicaid into a block grant program for the states.
The Pennsylvania Republican is scheduled to unveil his pitch at a news conference today with other GOP senators, in what is being viewed as a more politically viable budget proposal than the one passed by House Republicans last month.
The Democrat-controlled Senate plans to vote on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget blueprint, but it likely won't get anywhere close to the 60 votes needed to clear a filibuster.
The most controversial piece of the Ryan plan is to phase in a subsidy system for seniors to purchase private health care, rather than the current all-inclusive Medicare system. Mr. Toomey's plan does not propose wholesale Medicare changes, according to details first reported by The Hill newspaper and confirmed by a Toomey spokeswoman.
Mr. Toomey plans to repeal the Democratic health care law but keep its approximately $500 billion in savings from the growth of Medicare. Mr. Toomey also estimates $64 billion in savings from overhauling state medical malpractice laws. In addition, the budget would freeze Medicare physician reimbursement rates.
In a recommendation from President Barack Obama's bipartisan fiscal commission, Mr. Toomey proposes saving $30 billion by halting reimbursements to hospitals for unpaid Medicare deductibles and co-payments.
Like the Ryan plan, Mr. Toomey's proposal does not address Social Security while dramatically changing the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor and disabled by turning it into a block grant program to the states. Between 2016 and 2020, Mr. Toomey proposes to decrease Medicaid spending to $14 billion above 2008 levels.
Mr. Toomey's office would not release further details of the plan -- such as whether it proposes cuts to defense spending -- prior to today's scheduled announcement.
First Published May 10, 2011 10:47 am