How Biden's budget aims to sustain Medicare, lower costs

President Joe Biden will release his proposed fiscal year 2024 budget this week — which he says will extend the Medicare trust fund by at least 25 years, while lowering costs for Medicare beneficiaries. 

"The budget I am releasing this week will make the Medicare trust fund solvent beyond 2050 without cutting a penny in benefits," President Biden wrote in a March 7 opinion piece for The New York Times. "In fact, we can get better value, making sure Americans receive better care for the money they pay into Medicare." 

Doing so requires a modest tax increase for Americans making more than $400,000 per year — from 3.8 percent to 5 percent, according to a March 7 fact sheet from the White House. 

Additionally, President Biden's plan aims to close loopholes in existing Medicare taxes to ensure "high-paid professionals" and "wealthy business owners" can not claim their income is neither earned nor investment. Revenue from the Medicare net investment income tax would be dedicated to the Medicare hospital insurance trust fund, as would savings from prescription drug reform, such as the Inflation Reduction Act. Savings from these reforms amount to $200 billion over 10 years. 

By reducing the price of prescription drugs, the federal government will save money, leading to lower costs for beneficiaries in some areas, according to the White House. Medicare beneficiaries will pay less out of pocket on high-cost drugs. The budget also proposes capping Part D cost-sharing on some generic drugs, like those used for hypertension and high cholesterol, to $2 per prescription per month. 

There will be behavioral health benefits too, the White House says. The budget would require parity between physical and mental health coverage in Medicare and require coverage and payments for new types of behavioral health providers like certified addiction counselors. It eliminates cost-sharing for three or more mental or behavioral health visits per year and will remove "unnecessary limitations on beneficiary access to psychiatric hospitals." 

President Biden will send his budget to Capitol Hill on March 9. 

"I urge my Republican friends in Congress to do the same — and show the American people what they value," he wrote in the Times

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