AP NEWS

The Latest: Hospital groups protest cuts in Trump budget

March 12, 2019
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Acting OMB Director Russ Vought speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s proposed 2020 budget (all times local):

9:35 p.m.

Hospital groups are objecting strongly to hundreds of billions of dollars in proposed Medicare and Medicaid payment cuts in President Donald Trump’s budget.

Two major hospital trade groups did not mince words in blog posts Monday by their leaders.

Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, is calling proposed Medicare cuts “arbitrary and blunt,” adding, “the impact on care for seniors would be devastating.”

American Hospital Association President Rick Pollack says the budget raises “serious concerns about how hospitals and health systems can ensure they serve as the safety net” for patients.

The budget includes a range of hospital cuts over 10 years, including reduced reimbursements for uncompensated care and lower rates for outpatient departments.

Medicare will spend about $650 billion this year. The administration says it’s targeting waste.

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5:30 p.m.

The Trump administration is asking Congress to set up a fund of up to $2 billion to pay for sheltering migrant children who arrive with their families or alone at the U.S. border.

The president’s budget calls for the additional resources over a three-year period. The first installment in 2020 would total $480 million.

The issue of migrant children turned into a political debacle last summer for the administration after its “zero tolerance” policy led to parents and kids being separated at the border. But migrant children — often young teens — have been arriving for years.

The budget says the number of children requiring care is “inherently unpredictable” and more money is needed to ensure enough room in government shelters. Most kids are eventually released to parents or relatives.

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4:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget plan calls for a nationwide work requirement for low-income adults getting health insurance through the federal-state Medicaid program.

A national work requirement would reduce Medicaid spending by $130 billion over 10 years, according to the budget. Independent experts and advocates say that’s partly because it would leave millions uninsured.

Until now the Trump administration has given states the option of imposing their own work requirements. Some have done so, only to be taken to court.

The budget says “able-bodied, working-age” Medicaid recipients would have to find work, train for work, or volunteer. It’s part of the administration’s drive to require work in anti-poverty programs, including food stamps.

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 1.4 million to 4 million low-income people could lose Medicaid coverage.

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4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s proposed government spending plan would cut funding for diplomacy and development by about 24 percent.

But Congress has twice rejected the Trump administration’s attempts to slash the foreign affairs budget and is likely to do so again.

Trump’s 2020 budget proposal seeks $43 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. That’s roughly $726 million more than the administration sought in the 2019 budget, but it’s at least $13 billion less than what Congress approved. It’s also about $14 billion less than what lawmakers approved for 2018.

The cuts in the new spending plan would come largely from sharp reductions in funding to international organizations like the United Nations, global health and refugee programs and a reorganization of USAID.

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2:30 p.m.

The White House’s top budget official is defending the Trump administration’s economic forecasts.

Acting budget director Russell Vought briefed reporters Monday on President Donald Trump’s 2020 spending blueprint. He said gross domestic product grew by 3.1 percent in the 2018 fiscal year.

Vought says the administration met its economic forecasts two years in a row although critics said it was “guilty of wishful thinking.”

Vought claims the Trump administration is the first to ever meet its economic forecasts two years running.

Trump on Monday proposed a record $4.7 trillion spending plan for the budget year that begins Oct. 1.

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2:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s budget proposes a hard limit to what Medicare beneficiaries have to pay for prescription medications, an idea with bipartisan support in Congress.

The Medicare prescription drug benefit was enacted more than 15 years ago, before drugs costing $1,000 a pill or more came along. Right now beneficiaries with high costs face a co-pay of just 5 percent, but that can still amount to thousands of dollars for the most expensive medications.

The actual dollar amount of the cost cap would be determined in conjunction with Congress. One lawmaker’s proposal would set the limit at about $2,650.

The cap on cost sharing is part of several changes the budget would make to Medicare’s popular “Part D” prescription benefit. It’s not clear if all will find support.

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2 p.m.

Anti-AIDS activists are condemning proposed cuts for worldwide efforts to fight the disease in President Donald Trump’s new budget request.

Activists say the global cuts are at cross-purposes with the $291 million in additional spending that Trump has requested for an effort to virtually eliminate new HIV infections in the United States.

The budget calls for a 22 percent cut to PEPFAR, the U.S. program that has helped treat millions internationally, mostly in Africa, according to The ONE Campaign. That global health advocacy organization is associated with the musician Bono.

Trump is also proposing to change the financing formula another program, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, so that the U.S. contribution is watered down. The budget calls for $1.1 billion for the Global Fund, down from $1.35 billion, the current level as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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1:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s budget calls for collecting $100 million in new fees from the electronic cigarette industry to help combat a surge in underage vaping.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that typically heat a nicotine solution into an inhalable vapor. Most experts agree they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but officials at the Food and Drug Administration and other health agencies were caught off guard last year by an explosion in underage use by teenagers. About 1 in 5 high school students reported using e-cigarettes last year, according to the most recent federal survey data.

The fees “would ensure that FDA has the resources to address today’s alarming rise in youth e-cigarette use,” and related future problems, the budget states. The FDA already collects about $700 million in fees annually from makers of cigarettes, chew and other traditional tobacco products.

E-cigarettes were not part of the 2009 law that gave FDA authority to regulate key parts of the tobacco industry, and to collect fees from companies.

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1:17 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s budget would provide $291 million to launch a campaign to eliminate 90 percent of HIV infections in the U.S. within 10 years.

Announced earlier in the State of the Union speech, the plan has been welcomed by some AIDS activists, though others remain wary of the administration.

It relies on early testing, use of anti-infective medications to prevent new cases, and drug treatment to suppress the virus in people already infected.

The campaign is focused on 48 mainly urban counties and rural areas of seven states with high rates of HIV infection.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the government will spend $28.1 billion this year domestically on HIV/AIDS, including care and treatment, research, and prevention. The U.S. also contributes to overseas efforts.

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1:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump again is asking Congress to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by about a third, a request that lawmakers have rejected previously.

The White House’s 2020 budget request on Monday seeks $6.1 billion for the EPA, down 31 percent from the previous year.

The White House says it aims to ensure clean air and water and chemical safety, while “reducing regulatory burden and eliminating lower-priority activities.”

EPA Andrew Wheeler called it a “commonsense budget proposal.”

But Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group says it would work to appease Trump’s base and the fossil fuel and chemical industries.

Trump’s previous attempts to slash the EPA budget have been rejected by Congress.

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12:45 p.m.

The Trump administration wants to cut Education Department funding by 10 percent while expanding money for school choice, school safety and apprenticeship programs.

Department leaders on Monday released a $64 billion budget proposal that makes many of the same requests Congress denied last year.

The proposal would eliminate 29 programs, including a $2 billion program meant to help schools improve instruction, and a $1.2 billion program to create community centers.

Meanwhile it would add $60 million for charter schools and $200 million for school safety initiatives.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says the plan would help taxpayers by ending programs “that are better handled at the state or local level.”

DeVos also proposed up to $5 billion a year through the Treasury Department for federal tax credits supporting school choice scholarships.

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12:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s budget would re-open two health care battles he already lost in his first year in office: repealing “Obamacare” and limiting future federal spending on Medicaid for low-income people.

With Democrats in charge of the House, Trump’s grand plan has no chance of being enacted. And few Republican lawmakers want to be dragged into another health care fight.

Under the budget, both programs would be turned over to the states starting in 2021.

The Affordable Care Act would be replaced with grants that states could use to subsidize private insurance coverage, and Medicaid would be replaced with a block grant instead of the current open-ended federal commitment. Future federal spending increases would be tied to the rate of general inflation, which is lower than health care inflation.

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12:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is seeking just over $93 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs in his budget proposal for 2020, an increase of $6.5 billion from the year before.

The president’s request would support the implementation of a bill Trump signed into law last year to give veterans more freedom to see doctors outside the troubled Veterans Affairs system, a major shift aimed at reducing wait times and improving care by steering more patients to the private sector.

An overview of the budget says reducing veteran suicides would be a top priority. The plan also sets aside $4.3 billion for information technology investments to “improve the online interface between the veteran and the department.”

Congress will examine the president’s recommendations as it considers the overall 2020 government spending blueprint.

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11:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is relying on an optimistic projection of 3.1 percent economic growth to bring his proposed $4.7 trillion budget into balance in the future, along with accounting shuffles and steep cuts to domestic programs.

The 2020 budget released Monday projects a $1.1 trillion deficit for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Trump is banking on robust economic growth, but some economists say the boost from the Republican tax cuts are waning. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects growth to slow to 1.7 percent in coming years.

Presidential budgets are rarely enacted, but Trump’s sets up a new confrontation with Congress. He proposes boosting defense dollars but shifting some of it to a contingency account that doesn’t count toward budget caps. He also wants an additional $8.6 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

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8:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s budget chief confirms that the president will ask Congress for $8.6 billion for his proposed wall along the U.S. border with Mexico as part of his 2020 budget proposal.

Russ Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, says the “the border situation is deteriorating by the day” with “record numbers of apprehensions.” The $8.6 billion is in addition to the billions of dollars Trump seeks to secure for the wall through the national emergency at the border he declared last month.

Vought, speaking on CNBC, says the proposed budget will also have cuts in discretionary spending, such as foreign aid and in welfare “reforms.” He added that the White House also wants “reforms” to student loans and federal retirement programs.

Vought said, “Many of the reforms that we have are not what we would call a cut. Many of them are savings and reforms to make programs work better.”

Democrats have called the proposed cuts to essential services “dangerous.”

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12:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s new budget is returning to an old fight over spending on a border wall with Mexico.

The president’s proposal, set for release Monday, also seeks to increase spending for the military but cut back sharply on money for domestic programs in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Trump’s acting budget chief, Russ Vought, says the administration has “prioritized reining in reckless Washington spending.”

Democrats aren’t buying it. The chairman of the House Budget Committee, congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky, calls the proposed cuts to essential services “dangerous.”

Congress’ top Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader Chuck Schumer, predict that Trump’s latest demand for border wall money will result in another defeat for the president. They say the money would be better spent on rebuilding the country.