What Trump’s ‘taxpayer first’ budget would mean for Nevada

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s first detailed budget to Congress will include Medicaid cuts that could impact thousands of Nevadans as well as federal funds to restart the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site.

The budget blueprint being unveiled Tuesday includes big ticket items the president wants, like $54 billion for military weapons and $2.6 billion for border security, including $1.6 billion for the first portion of a southern wall.

It also eliminates many federal programs and cuts $800 billion from Medicaid and $193 billion from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, which provides food stamps to low-income people and families.

A work requirement would be imposed on participants without dependent children, an effort to cut the 44 million people who received the benefits in 2016.

‘Taxpayer-first budget’

“It is a taxpayer-first budget, written through the eyes of the people who pay taxes,” Mick Mulvaney, the White House Office of Budget and Management director, said in a briefing on Monday.

The budget, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” will be delivered to Congress Tuesday before Mulvaney appears before the House Budget Committee. He will brief the Senate on Wednesday.

Critics immediately took aim at the proposed cuts in Medicaid.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., accused Trump of wanting to “strip away the safety net from working families and shift it to his friends at Mar-a-Lago,” his winter golf retreat in Florida.

The cuts would hurt veterans who rely on Medicaid programs, said Families USA, a nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer health care advocate.

Mulvaney said the $800 billion cut in Medicaid over 10 years was included in the House health care bill that passed last month. Those savings are included in the budget, he said, even though the Senate is writing its own version of the bill.

Nevada, 30 other states and the District of Columbia that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have opposed Medicaid cuts and changes to funding formulas that they say would shift the financial burden to them. The expansion of the program provided health-care coverage for 11 million additional Americans, including 400,000 in Nevada, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, vice chairman of the National Governors Association, and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, both Republicans, are working with other lawmakers from Medicaid expansion states trying to stave off the cuts in the House bill.

The Medicaid cuts would be accomplished by capping eligibility and providing funding to states through per-capita or block-grant formulas. That would replace the more generous federal match states now receive for each resident in the program.

Changes to the funding formula for fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1, could also pose problems for states like Nevada with legislatures that meet every two years to set budgets and spending outlines.

The budget also includes $120 million the administration is seeking to restart the licensing process for Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, identified by Congress as the permanent storage site for used nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste.

President Barack Obama halted the program in 2012, at the behest of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Yucca Mountain is opposed by Sandoval and the majority of the state’s congressional delegation, both Republicans and Democrats. The state Legislature has approved additional funds to fight the project.

Nye and other rural Nevada counties support the licensing process.

The Trump administration has signaled that it wants to finish development of the waste site about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is writing legislation aimed at restarting the licensing process, which expected to take years.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Yucca Mountain earlier this year.

Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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