House Eliminates Medicare Trigger

The U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 6 voted 242-181 in favor of the 111th Congress adopting the operating rules of the 110th Congress — with a few changes. In particular, the rules package (H Res 5) eliminates the Medicare “trigger” provision of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. The move frees President Obama from submitting a plan to contain Medicare costs.

In Section 3: Separate Orders, under Medicare Cost Containment, amendment (e) reads, “Section 803 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 shall not apply during the 111th Congress.”

The 2003 Medicare law requires the acting president to submit a plan to contain Medicare costs if 45 percent or more of the program’s funding comes from general tax revenues for two consecutive years. The trigger went into effect for the first time last year.

In a release accompanying the rules package, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the trigger is “an ideologically driven target based on a misleading measure of Medicare’s financial health.”

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