The Super-Committee: Less Important Than Meets The Eye

Henry Aaron

Posted 11/19/11 on The Health Affairs Blog

Copyright ©2011 Health Affairs by Project HOPE – The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.  

The effort to cut federal budget deficits resembles nothing so much as the old movie serials in which each week the hero ran a gantlet of perils the last of which threatened imminent death or dismemberment.  Seven days later, the intrepid adventurer would somehow escape unscathed, only to repeat the cycle.

The courageous crusader of the last couple of months has been the so-called ‘super committee,’ the group created by Congress last August to slay the economic menace threatening the economy—budget deficits.  Impelling projected deficits are anticipated increases in the rising cost of health care for the elderly, disabled, and poor through Medicare and Medicaid.

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The Super Committee Failure – What’s Next?

Robert Laszewski

Posted 11/21/11 on Health Policy and Marketplace Review

The stock market today was shocked, simply shocked, that the Super Committee didn’t come up with a debt deal.

I don’t know why. Republicans can’t vote for more taxes unless they’re willing to get “primaried” from the right and risk losing their seat. Ditto for Democrats who would face the same punishment from their base if they voted to change the sacred defined benefit entitlements without at least getting tax concessions from the Republicans.

Obviously, neither side has a lot of statesmen in their ranks who would actually be willing to compromise.

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Bracing for More Medicare Cuts

Merrill Goozer

Posted 10/19/11 on Gooz News.

I attended a depressing forum this morning on cost-saving ideas for Medicare to present to the Congressional “Super Committee” charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion in budget savings by the end of the year. The tone was ominous, best summed up by Mark Smith, president of the California HealthCare Foundation. “In times of crisis, meat-axes are taken to whole sectors. If you don’t believe me, ask the people who used to work for Lehman Brothers,” he said.

Here’s the backdrop. President Obama in his mid-September budget reduction plan called for coming up with an additional $320 billion in Medicare savings over the next decade, which would be on top of the half trillion dollars in Medicare cost reductions contained in the Affordable Care Act. The president would get there largely by cutting payments to hospitals and other providers, although the president also called for higher premiums on wealthier seniors for physician and drug coverage.

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The Debt Super Committee: Will We Get A Deal?

Robert Laszewski

First posted 9/20/11 on Health Policy and Marketplace Review

It’s back to work in Washington, DC and all the attention is now on the Super Committee and their goal of cutting spending by at least $1.2 trillion over ten years.

If the committee fails to come up with a plan that passes the Congress, there would be $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts. The health care special interests have reason to hope they will fail—the fallback cuts would only impact Medicare providers in a small way—2% in provider cuts—and not directly impact beneficiaries or Medicaid generally. Any Super Committee deal would likely be more far reaching if for no other reason than to protect the defense budget from the huge cuts the fallback would require.

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The Anti-Tax Lobby And The ‘Super Committee’

Merrill Goozner

First posted 8/17/11 in The Fiscal Times:

With a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction axe poised to fall in December, corporate lobbyists are lining the hallways of the nation’s capitol to ensure their clients’ necks aren’t on the chopping block.

Will these special interests be able to buy their way to a more solicitous consideration of their views? One thing is certain: For the 12 senators and representatives serving on the Super Committee to arrive at a compromise in December, some campaign contributors will have to take a haircut.

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The Super-Committee: Health Care Experts Need Not Apply

Joe Paduda

First posted 8/11/11 on Managed Care Matters

Note by Brian: On the day this post was originally published, House Minority Leader Pelosi appointed the three Democrats to the Super-Committee: Chris Van Hollen, Xavier Becerra and James Clyburn.

With nine of the twelve spots on the Super-Committee taken, it looks like energy, tax policy, and political connections (now there’s a surprise!) are well-represented. What isn’t is expertise in health care, Medicare, or Medicaid.

With House Democrats scheduled to name their three panelists by Tuesday, it’s possible that someone with real knowledge of health care policy will be included, butregardless of who Nancy Pelosi names, there won’t be someone from the GOP side who’s got deep experience in the issue, someone(s) who could engage in a real discussion of the issues, represent the other side’s views, and act as the ‘in-house expert’ and counsel the other members of their party.

With Medicare and Medicaid likely to account for over a quarter of the Federal budget, the absence of deep health care policy expertise is rather stunning.

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The Debt Deal: There Will Be Blood on the Floor on November 23rd

Robert Laszewski

First posted 8/1/11 on Health Policy and Marketplace Review

073111_leadersinternalThe debt deal is finally done. But it really isn’t an agreement on what cuts will be made, just the process that will be used to make them.

The real work is left to the Congressional appropriators for the first $917 billion and for a super-committee of Congress for the second $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in ten-year cuts.

That second tranche is where health care will make its contribution. The super-committee has to make its decisions by November 23rd and, as a practical matter, the Congress can only accept what the super-committee decides or face the consequences of the automatic $1.2 trillion fallback cuts.

When it comes to health care and the super-committee, all federal health care spending is on the table—–Medicare, Medicaid, the new law, benefits, and provider payments.

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