Tom Price hopes to reform Social Security in House budget

In a speech at the Heritage Action for America "Conservative Policy Summit" on Monday, Price said he was excited to work with a GOP-led Senate to end the "muddled mess" of the last few years.

Under his predecessor, Paul Ryan, the House Budget included controversial changes to Medicare and Medicaid, but did not touch Social Security. Price hopes to change that this year:

Price consistently framed entitlement changes as Republican desires to "save, secure and strengthen" the programs, given their rising costs that are a big driver of future deficit projections. Price pointed out that the Social Security disability program is scheduled to run out of cash next year.

He said Republicans should not fear the politics of such changes -- pointing out that the Romney-Ryan ticket won seniors in 2012, despite Democrats' "Mediscare" tactics around the Ryan proposal for a voucher-like premium support program for Medicare.

Price also pressed the case for a full replacement bill for Obamacare. His own bill has gone nowhere in the past few years, as Republicans were unable to reach a consensus on a health care plan.

Price said there is some urgency here: If the Supreme Court in June rules that the administration can't hand out subsidies to states that do not have their own health insurance exchanges, "that unravels Obamacare rather quickly. That's a good thing. But it's not a good thing to not have any replacement."

Price also sought to temper expectations of huge conservative victories. Budget reconciliation -- a process to avoid a filibuster in the Senate -- is not a "silver bullet" Price said, implying that it might not be the tool to repeal Obamacare.

He also talked about how the debt ceiling "provides focus on this issue," but did not talk of an epic clash around the deadline, expected sometime this summer.

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