“There are NO Medicaid cuts in GOP reforms,” Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, tweeted Monday. His argument? Medicaid spending will still increase under the GOP health plan. It will simply do so more slowly than under the current law.
“In Washington, spending always goes up,” Fleisher said. “It's just a matter of now much.”
It's precisely for that reason that when people in Washington talk about spending cuts and increases, they usually talk about them relative to current law. Spending “always goes up” in Washington in part because of this little thing called inflation — as prices go up, government spending has to increase, too, just to keep up.
Recall, if you will, that “a reduction in federal outlays” is fed-speak for “a cut.”
The CBO also included a handy chart of the difference between Medicaid spending under the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid spending under the Senate Republicans' health-care plan. Here's what that looks like.
See that gap between the two lines? That's Cutsville, U.S.A., population $772 billion. By 2026, if the Republican plan is signed into law, the CBO estimates that the federal government would be spending something like $150 billion a year less on Medicaid than it would under Obamacare.
In discussing the bill's impact on the federal budget, the CBO puts that Medicaid cut front and center. “The largest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid — spending on the program would decline in 2026 by 26 percent in comparison with what CBO projects under current law,” the report states in the very first bullet point under “Effects on the federal budget.”