Budget deal appears to make “everyone” happy

According to documents circulating on Capitol Hill, the deal includes $6 billion in funding for treatment of mental health issues and opioid addiction, $2 billion in extra funding for the National Institutes of Health, and an additional four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which builds on the six years approved by Congress last month.

In the Medicare program, the deal would accelerate the closing of the “doughnut hole” in Medicare drug coverage that requires seniors to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket before catastrophic coverage kicks in. It would also repeal the controversial Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which is charged with holding down Medicare spending for the federal government if it exceeds a certain level. Members have never been appointed to the board, however, and its use has not so far been triggered by Medicare spending. Both the closure of the doughnut hole and creation of the IPAB were part of the ACA.

The agreement would also fund a host of more limited health programs — some of which are known as “extenders” because they often ride along with other, larger health or spending bills.

Those programs include more than $7 billion in funding for the nation’s federally funded community health centers. The clinics serve 27 million low-income people and saw their funding lapse last fall — a delay advocates said had already complicated budgeting and staffing decisions for many clinics.

And in a victory for the physical therapy industry and patient advocates, the accord would permanently repeal a limit on Medicare’s coverage of physical therapy, speech-language pathology and outpatient treatment. Previously, the program capped coverage after $2,010 worth of occupational therapy and another $2,010 for speech-language therapy and physical therapy combined. But Congress had long taken action to delay those caps or provide exemptions — meaning they had never actually taken effect. Source Kaiser Health News

Oh, let’s be sure we just keep ignoring spending and debt.

Senate leaders have agreed to a massive budget deal raising the defense and nondefense spending caps for two years, increasing other spending, and in the process adding $300 billion to $400 billion to the deficit. Ultimately, the deal would set the stage for more than $1.5 trillion of new debt over the next decade. The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.


2 replies »

  1. Way to go Congress!… Reduce revenue (tax cuts). Increase spending funded by debt while facing increasing interest rates. This can’t end well but for now let’s party on.


    • Jack B, History shows us each time tax breaks were passed 1960s forward, the revenues to the government increased because of economic growth. The problem is not tax cuts, it is the continued increases in spending above revenue collected. We are so deep in the hole, 20 trillion and counting, there is no way we will ever be able to pay down the national debt.
      Congress spends like a drunken sailor, but at least the sailor is spending his own money.
      Until we have a balanced budget law at the federal level, things will never change.


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