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Republican Senator Lamar Alexander warns against simultaneous overhaul of Medicare and Obamacare

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A senior U.S. Senate Republican warned his party on Thursday against simultaneously overhauling Medicare and the Obamacare health insurance program, saying this would be “biting off more than you can chew.”

The cautionary comments from Senator Lamar Alexander came after House Speaker Paul Ryan, long an advocate of privatize Medicare, said Republican lawmakers would be discussing reforms of the health insurance program for the elderly with President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

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Republicans won the White House as well as keeping their majorities in both houses of Congress in elections last month, and are now busy preparing an agenda for next year after the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3 and Trump takes office Jan. 20.

“Well, of course it’s up to the speaker and Senator (Mitch) McConnell (the majority leader) what our agenda is, but my advice to them would be, save Medicare for another day,” Alexander, chairman of the Senate’s health, education, labor and pensions committee, told reporters in a Capitol hallway.

Medicare serves more than 50 million Americans who are elderly or disabled. More than one-third of them are in Medicare Advantage plans run by private insurers like UnitedHealth Group Inc. The balance receive medical benefits directly from Medicare on a traditional fee-for-service basis.

The government has been trying to cut spending on the program, which rises each year with the cost of medical services and drugs.

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“We want to begin immediately to repeal Obamacare,” Alexander said. “Trying to deal with the solvency issues in Medicare at the same time falls into the category of biting off more than you can chew … a little humility here would be in order, we can’t do everything at once and we shouldn’t try.”

Ryan earlier Thursday said that Medicare was on a path to going bankrupt around 2028, and needed reform, a repeat of his long-standing stance. He wants to convert the fee-for-service program into a system of subsidies for seniors, to buy coverage from private insurers or a scaled-back Medicare.

Democrats including Senator Chuck Schumer have seized on the fact that Trump’s nominee to head the Health and Human Services department – Representative Tom Price – supports major changes to Medicare, to warn Republicans against privatizing the program.

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Alexander also said that while Republicans will move quickly to repeal Obamacare, the repeal probably would not take effect for two or three years, during which time lawmakers can work on a replacement plan.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Tom Brown)


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Elections 2016

Modi tells Xi summit will launch ‘new era’ for India and China

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday that his summit with Chinese leader Xi Xinping would launch a "new era" between the neighbours who are seeking to overcome troublesome differences.

Modi and Xi strolled along a pristine Bay of Bengal beach and held one-on-one talks overlooking the ocean before their delegations sat down to official negotiations at the historic resort town of Mahbalipuram, south of Chennai.

The two leaders are meeting for the second time in a year in a bid to ease tensions over border disputes, the troubled Kashmir region and China's domination of trade between their huge economies.

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Trump calls for impeachment of Mitt Romney for criticizing him in rambling tweet

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Hours after Donald Trump attacked Sen. Mitt Romney for being critical of his call for the Chinese to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, the president was back for another round, calling for the Utah Republiocan to be impeached.

Claiming without evidence that voters in Utah are turning on their senator, Trump claimed, "I’m hearing that the Great People of Utah are considering their vote for their Pompous Senator, Mitt Romney, to be a big mistake. I agree! He is a fool who is playing right into the hands of the Do Nothing Democrats!" followed by:  #IMPEACHMITTROMNEY

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Elections 2016

Trump claimed ‘inequality is down’ — one day later federal data showed the exact opposite is true

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"The separation between rich and poor from 2017 and 2018 was greater than it has ever been."

Federal data released Thursday showed U.S. income inequality in 2018 reached the highest level since the Census Bureau began measuring it five decades ago, a finding that comes less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump said "inequality is down."

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