Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), the chairman of the budget committee, told reporters on Thursday that Republicans are eyeing major changes to Medicare in 2017.
Price, who is being floated as a possible Health and Human Services Secretary in the next administration, said that he expects Republican in the House to move on Medicare reforms “six to eight months” into the Trump administration.
Privatization of Medicare has been a central feature of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s budget proposal for years, and the House GOP has voted in favor of it multiple times. Ryan himself said last week that Medicare would be on the table in the new Congress, signaling it could be taken up early in the new year. Price’s comments suggest privatization won’t be part of the first round of legislative initiatives rolled out by the Trump administration and GOP-controlled Congress.
Price also noted that Republicans are eyeing using a tactic known as budget reconciliation to make the change. That process allows Republicans to pass bills with a simple majority in the U.S. Senate.
When asked by TPM about timing for changes to Medicare, Price said “I think that is probably in the second phase of reconciliation, which would have to be in the FY 18 budget resolution in the first 6-8 months.”
Republicans plan to tackle the Affordable Care Act in the first budget reconciliation process, which could take place as early as January. Tackling Medicare reform and Obamacare repeal at the same time could prove too high a risk for Republicans who have yet to reveal a clear plan to replace Obamacare with.
During his weekly press conference House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) remained vague about the timing for such reforms, saying only that those discussions are still underway.