“I think we need to do a better job of explaining to the American people exactly what is kept, what are the real restrictions on how—I’m just talking now for DHS, Department of Homeland Security–how we use it, how long we can keep it, how we share it, all those thing,” she explained.
Sound like ObamaCare. If we explained it better you’d love it?
On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced $54 million in grants for Affordable Care Act navigators — people or organizations that will help explain the health law’s new programs.
$54 Million dollars to hire PR people. Wow! And they complain about the Sequester!
“they have a more educational role of providing “information and services in a fair, accurate and impartial manner,”
So they’ll tell you you’re screwed in a happy, hapy joy joy kind of way.
No, that’s not creepy at all! 🙂
But here’s the funny part:
The White House wants to reverse $500 million in cuts to the Medicaid program meant to start in 2014, aiming to ensure that states have adequate funds to assist those that remain uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.
This was the little discussed and lot denied double counted “savings” that was going to make ObamaCare “affordable” back in 2009 when it was being hotly debated.
Counting these cuts as “savings” was half of the savings designed.
During a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) admitted to double-counting in the Obamacare budget.
In her first appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee since the health-care law passed, Kathleen Sebelius responded to a line of questioning by Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois about whether $500 billion in Medicare cuts were used to sustain the program or pay for the law.
“There is an issue here on the budget because your own actuary has said you can’t double-count,” said Shimkus. “You can’t count — they’re attacking Medicare on the CR when their bill, your law, cut $500 billion from Medicare.”
He continued: “Then you’re also using the same $500 billion to what? Say your funding health care. Your own actuary says you can’t do both. […] What’s the $500 billion in cuts for? Preserving Medicare or funding the health-care law?
Sebelius’ reply? “Both.” (DC)
“To better align DSH payments with expected levels of uncompensated care, the Budget proposes to begin reductions in 2015, instead of 2014,” the White House proposes.
The DSH cuts are supposed to start in 2014 with $500 million in reductions and get bigger each year. In 2022, the DSH program faces a $4 billion reduction.
In other words, do it AFTER the election. 🙂
What do you want to bet there will quietly be some more maneuvering when Hilary officially starts running for the post of Obama’s hand picked successor. 🙂
One of the enduring mysteries of President Obama’s health law is how its spending constraints and payroll tax hikes on high earners can be used to shore up Medicare finances and at the same time pay for a massive new entitlement program. Isn’t this double counting?
The short answer is: Yes, it is. You can’t spend the same money twice. And so, thanks to the new health law, federal deficits and debt will be hundreds of billions of dollars higher in the next decade alone.
Here’s how it works. When Congress considers legislation that alters taxes or spending related to Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, the changes are recorded not just on the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund’s books, but also on Congress’s “pay-as-you-go” scorecard.
The “paygo” requirement is supposed to force lawmakers to find “offsets” for new tax cuts or entitlement spending, and thus protect against adding to future federal budget deficits. Putting the Medicare payroll tax hikes and spending constraints on the “pay-as-you-go” ledger was instrumental in getting the health law through Congress, because doing so fostered a widespread misperception that the law would reduce future deficits.
But the same provisions add to the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund’s reserves, which expands Medicare’s spending authority. Medicare can only pay full benefits so long as its trust fund has sufficient reserves to meet these obligations. If the trust fund has insufficient resources, then spending must be cut automatically to ensure the fund does not go into deficit. The health law’s Medicare provisions prevent these spending cuts from taking place for several more years.
In short, the scoring convention is not widely understood and thus obscures the double-counting.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand this is to look at Social Security. If we generate $1 in savings within that program, then that’s $1 that Social Security can spend later. If we also claimed this same $1 to finance a new spending program, we would clearly be adding to the total federal deficit. There has long been bipartisan understanding of this aspect of Social Security, which is why Congress’s paygo rules prohibit using Social Security savings as an offset to pay for unrelated federal spending.
No such prohibition exists in the budget process against committing Medicare savings simultaneously to Medicare and to pay for a new federal program. It’s this budget loophole, unique to Medicare, that gives the health law’s spending constraints and payroll tax hikes the appearance of reducing federal deficits. But it is appearance, not reality. If you have only $1 of income and are obliged to pay a dollar each to two different recipients, then you will have to borrow another $1. This is effectively what the health law does. It authorizes far more in spending than it creates in savings.
How much more? Charles Blahous’s study, “The Fiscal Consequences of the Affordable Care Act,” published last month by the Mercatus Center, found that the health law would add over $340 billion to federal deficits over the next 10 years. Over the longer term, deficits would run into the trillions.
Medicare spending cuts and tax increases have always been double-counted—recorded both on the paygo scorecard and added to the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. No budgetary rules were bent. But the fiscal stakes in the Affordable Care Act are extraordinarily high. The health law’s Medicare hospital insurance spending cuts and tax hikes are now claimed to have eliminated most of the program’s medium- and long-term deficits—even as they have also paved the way for the most expensive entitlement expansion in a generation.
The government now has on its books two large, expensive and permanent entitlement commitments—the health law’s premium subsidies and the Medicare hospital insurance program—yet Congress has only identified enough resources to pay for one of them. (WSJ)
Now it wants to delay it until after the next election.
No, that’s not cynical and narcissistic at all… 🙂
They aren’t trying hide it again….No No not at all…