Capitol Correspondence - 01.21.20

President Ups Pressure on Drug Pricing, Tax Cut Proposals – With Implications for Disability Programs

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The federal spotlight on the health care system continues this election year, creating challenges and opportunities for disability programs still awaiting congressional renewal as the President begins demanding results on the health policy front. Politico Pro reported that:

“President Donald Trump lashed out at HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday after senior aides presented him with polling data showing that voters prefer Democrats on health care, according to six people with knowledge of the conversation.

Trump, who phoned Azar from a meeting with his political affairs team, expressed frustration that voters haven’t rewarded him for taking actions to lower drug prices, the sources said.

Trump’s outburst sent White House staff scrambling to convene a meeting on drug pricing this morning with potentially more to come. Some predicted Trump could look to push harder on stalled drug pricing proposals, including one opposed by many in his party.”

Even before the aforementioned meeting, drug pricing has been a contentious issue in Congress this year – ANCOR has been monitoring the issue because one proposal by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) includes a provision to permanently renew the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. MFP helps people with disabilities voluntarily move from state-run institutions and nursing homes into the community with their family and peers.

Additionally, ANCOR will be monitoring reports that the President wishes to issue a tax cut proposal, a move that could have potential implications for Medicaid due to the reduced federal revenue such a tax cut would trigger. Medicaid funds the majority of disability supports in the United States. As reported by ASAE, of which ANCOR is a member:

“White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said that President Trump will unveil a new “tax cuts 2.0” proposal this summer as he campaigns for reelection.

Kudlow did not provide specifics about the plan but said the goal will be to ‘help middle-class economic growth.’ The White House has met with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee who helped usher in the 2017 tax law. That law cut the corporate tax rate to 21% permanently and individual tax rates until 2026. Making the individual tax cuts permanent is widely considered to be part of Kudlow’s plan and lower capital gains tax rates could also be in the mix.

Passage of another tax cut plan would likely hinge on whether Republicans are able to regain the majority in the House and maintain their Senate majority. Just before the 2018 midterm elections, Trump also promised a 10 percent middle-class tax cut but dropped the idea after Republicans lost the House. Reducing the individual tax rate to 15 percent might encourage consumer spending but would add to the growing deficit unless the cuts were offset by spending reductions to federal programs. The 2017 tax law added more than $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit.”