President Joe Biden said he will seek to boost Medicare funding by raising a tax on the wealthy and expanding the program’s ability to negotiate lower prescription drug prices in a New York Times op-ed Tuesday previewing his budget proposals, which are being released this week.
“Medicare is more than a government program. It’s the rock-solid guarantee that Americans have counted on to be there for them when they retire,” Biden wrote.
The op-ed was published days before Biden is scheduled to release his budget proposal Thursday during a trip to Philadelphia.
Biden wrote that his budget proposes to increase the Medicare tax rate on income above $400,000 from 3.8% to 5%.
“As I proposed in the past, my budget will also ensure that the tax that supports Medicare can’t be avoided altogether. This modest increase in Medicare contributions from those with the highest incomes will help keep the Medicare program strong for decades to come,” he wrote.
Biden also said his proposal will build on drug pricing reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act, which he signed into law last year, strengthening Medicare’s “newly established negotiation power” by allowing it "to negotiate prices for more drugs and bringing drugs into negotiation sooner after they launch."
“That’s another $200 billion in deficit reduction," he wrote. "We will then take those savings and put them directly into the Medicare trust fund. Lowering drug prices while extending Medicare’s solvency sure makes a lot more sense than cutting benefits.”
Biden said his proposals would also extend the Medicare trust fund by an additional 25 years, "beyond 2050."
He went on to take aim at “MAGA Republicans,” referring to allies of former President Donald Trump, whose campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again,” for wanting to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act.
“If the MAGA Republicans get their way, seniors will pay higher out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs and insulin, the deficit will be bigger, and Medicare will be weaker,” Biden wrote. “The only winner under their plan will be Big Pharma. That’s not how we extend Medicare’s life for another generation or grow the economy.”
Biden’s op-ed comes a month after he took aim at Republicans over Social Security and Medicare in his State of the Union address, which drew outcries from GOP lawmakers.
Republicans pushed back against his assertion in his speech that the GOP wants to cut the programs. They have since urged Biden to stop painting the GOP as a threat to the programs.
Biden is using the issue to attack Republicans amid a debate over the debt ceiling, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., calling for spending cuts. McCarthy, however, hasn’t specified what to cut and has insisted Social Security and Medicare shouldn’t be on the table.