Sebelius Says HHS Will Not Seek More Money This Year To Implement Health Overhaul
"The Obama administration does not plan to seek additional money in next year's Health and Human Services Department budget to implement the new U.S. healthcare reform law, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Wednesday," Reuters reports. "Testifying before a House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee, Sebelius said the $911 billion HHS budget request for fiscal year 2011, which begins Oct. 1, remains the same even after Congress passed the healthcare overhaul," which "included $1 billion" for implementation by HHS. The Congressional Budget Office "estimated that HHS could need as much as $2 billion a year over the next 10 years to cover the cost" of the legislation, and "Republican Representative Todd Tiahrt predicted that the administration will end up asking for more money to implement the law. Tiahrt indicated that the $5 billion in the law to finance temporary state-based high-risk pools for uninsured people with pre-existing medical conditions will not be enough" (Smith, 4/21).
Politico: Meanwhile, the Senate budget process is moving forward. "Senate Democrats released details Wednesday of a five-year budget plan that promises to narrow the deficit dramatically by 2015 but still accumulates almost $3.9 trillion more government debt over the same period. ... Health care ate up most of the available Medicare savings and popular tax offsets that might otherwise be tapped to narrow the deficit. And as a result, it's harder to dig out of the deficit hole, and little progress will be made in the short term absent a further surge in the economy" (Rogers, 4/22).
Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle: "Democrats may cut taxes this year by using the same legislative procedure that allowed them to pass President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, under a budget plan unveiled by Senate Democrats." Reconciliation would be used "to approve tax cuts with a simple majority vote. ... Democrats control 59 votes in the 100-member Senate, one short of the 60 needed to keep Republicans from blocking legislation. Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said his party's success in using reconciliation to pass the health-care law is encouraging members to turn to the maneuver for other items" (4/22).