"We need to stabilize" Medicare before expanding, Sen. Manchin says

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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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