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Tag Archive | "Debt Ceiling"

Key Dates for Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction

On August 2, President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011, which authorizes an increase in the debt ceiling, caps spending, and provides a process by which an additional $1.2 trillion in cuts will be made.

The law authorizes a Joint Committee of Congress that is required to draft legislation to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.  If Congress does not enact such legislation before December 23, 2011, across the board spending cuts would be triggered.  The timeframe by which Congress is required to pass this deficit reduction legislation is short:

  • August 16, 2011 – Members of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction Appointed
  • September 16, 2011 – The Joint Committee Meetings Begin
  • October 14, 2011 – House and Senate Committees may submit recommendations for deficit reduction to the Joint Committee
  • November 23, 2011 – The Joint Committee votes on recommendations
  • December 23, 2011 – The House and Senate must vote up or down without amendment on the deficit reduction legislation

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Lieberman/Coburn Bipartisan Plan to Save Medicare and Reduce Debt

On June 28, 2011, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) presented a proposal– the Lieberman/Coburn Bipartisan Plan to Save Medicare and Reduce Debt – that would reform Medicare in order to save at least $500 billion over 10 years. The reforms include:

• Eliminating the variation in beneficiaries’ deductibles depending on the services provided and, instead, establishing an annual deductible of $550 for both Medicare Part A and Part B services;

• Establishing an “out-of-pocket maximum” of $7,500 for Medicare beneficiaries with higher income Americans having a higher out-of-pocket maximum;

• Increasing beneficiary cost-sharing in Medigap by requiring the enrollee to pay the first $550 in cost-sharing and limiting the coverage to half of the remaining coinsurance up to $7,500 of the new out-of-pocket maximum;

• Increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 67 by 2025;

• Accelerating the implementation of the productivity adjustments and rebasing for home health payments;

• Phasing out the Medicare payments for bad hospital debt;

• Requiring higher income Americans to pay more for Medicare Part B services;

• Increasing the Medicare Part B premium until enrollees premium level reaches a minimum of 35 percent of the program’s costs in 2019; and

• Requiring individuals 65 years of age and older who are making more than $150,000 annually ($300,000 for couples) to pay the full premium costs for their Medicare Part D coverage.

The plan would include provisions focused on preventing fraud, waste, and abuse from the “Medicare and Medicaid Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayer Dollars (FAST) Act” (S.1251), which was introduced by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Coburn. The Senators propose to use the cost savings generated from the above changes to pay for a three-year Medicare physician fee fix.

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Congressional Update: Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

  • April 13, 2011 – President Obama presented his fiscal proposal.
  • April 20, 2011 – House passed Republican Budget Resolution – “The Path to Prosperity.”
  • Early May – Gang of Six – Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) – expected to release plan to reduce deficit.
  • May 5, 2011 – President’s Bipartisan Commission on Deficit Reduction convenes.  The negotiations will be lead by Vice President Joe Biden.  House and Senate Leadership have designated the following Members of Congress to participate:  Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC).
  • Week of May 9 – Possible Senate Budget Committee mark-up of Chairman Conrad’s proposal.
  • May – Senate vote on House Republican Budget Resolution.
  • No later than May 16, 2011 – U.S. will reach its debt limit.
  • Late Summer – Temporary extensions in the debt ceiling tied to specific cuts may be considered.
  • By August 2, 2011 – U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner reported that the Department will exhaust all options to avoid a default.

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