Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that Democrats "need to stabilize" Medicare before expanding the program, The Hill reports.
Why it matters: Progressives are hoping to expand Medicare through a broad social spending bill, which Democratic senators have urged Manchin to support. Manchin's vote is critical in passing any Democratic bill in the 50-50 Senate.
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House Democrats' $3.5 trillion plan currently includes a provision to expand Medicare to cover hearing, vision and dental health.
What he's saying: "By 2026, you understand the trust fund is going to be insolvent," he told reporters as he left the Capitol on Thursday.
"I want to make sure we are stabilizing what we have before we start going down this expansion role."
The big picture: Senate Democrats have not introduced their version of the spending bill, though Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has thrown his support behind the plan.
Disagreements remain on key issues including clean energy and how to pay for the bill, per The Hill.
Manchin is privately saying he thinks Congress should take a "strategic pause" until 2022 before voting on the $3.5 trillion social spending package.
Worth noting: Moderate Democrats like Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) have also said they prioritize shoring up rather than expanding Medicare, according to the Washington Post.
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