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Tag Archive | "OMB"

Politico Explains Impact of Sequestration

Today, Politico published an article by Jonathan Allen that sets out exactly how the cuts will impact nondefense and defense spending.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will write a sequestration order that details the exact amount of the cuts to federal programs.  The report is expected in January.

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OMB Director Provides Guidance on FY 2013 Budget Requests

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget circulated a memorandum to the heads of Departments and Agencies with the following directions regarding their Fiscal Year 2013 budget requests:

1. Overall agency requests should be at least 5% below the FY 2011 enacted appropriations;

2. The budget submission should outline options in line with the President’s efforts to cut waste and reorganize priorities to reduce the deficit and invest in areas that will generate jobs and economic growth; and

3. Departments and agencies should identify in their budget requests additional discretionary funding reductions that would amount a level at least 10 percent below the FY 2011 enacted appropriations.

The memorandum specifies that departments and agencies should not simply propose across the board spending cuts and that the reductions that are identified in the budget requests will be used as guidance for the President as he makes decisions about funding cuts.

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Capital Thinking Podcast

Newly-elected Republicans have moved quickly to attempt a repeal of the health care reform legislation. Last week, the Senate voted on an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act. The effort failed by a vote of 47-51. Senators voted along party lines with all Republicans voting for the repeal and all Democrats along with Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders voting against it. Sens. Joe Lieberman, an Independent, and Mark Warner, a Democrat, did not vote. This vote comes two weeks after the House successfully voted to repeal ACA. The Senate approved by a wide margin an amendment to eliminate the 1099 reporting requirement mandated by the Affordable Care Act. This followed the introduction of three separate bills to repeal the unpopular provision. The health care reform law requires that all businesses issue Form 1099 to vendors from which they purchase $600 or more of goods annually and file the information report with the Internal Revenue Service. The requirement is effective for payments made after December 31, 2011, and was included in health care reform as a revenue raising provision. The timing for repeal of the 1099 reporting requirement in the House is unclear; however, on February 17, the House Ways and Means Committee plans to mark up legislation to repeal the 1099 reporting requirement.

On January 31, a Federal judge in Florida issued a ruling declaring the entire health reform law – and the individual mandate, in particular – unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and therefore “void.” The judge dismissed a separate claim challenging the legality of the Medicaid expansion. According to U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson, “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications.” The Obama Administration has signaled that it will appeal the decision, and most experts believe that the case will be heard by the Supreme Court in the next couple of years.

On Thursday, CMS Administrator Don Berwick will make his debut on the Hill in appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee at a hearing examining the Affordable Care Act’s impact on Medicare beneficiaries. Richard Foster, Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will also testify at the hearing. During the week of February 14, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius and White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew are scheduled to testify before the Committee about the President’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget proposal.

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Capital Thinking Podcast

Last week, the White House announced President Obama’s recess appointment of Donald Berwick as CMS Administrator. Dr. Berwick is a pediatrician and professor at Harvard University and the founder the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. He launched the“100,000 Lives” campaign to reduce the number of deaths attributable to medical errors in hospitals. He has previously served as Vice Chair of the U.S. Preventive Task Force, member of the Board of Trustees of the American Hospital Association, Chair of the National Advisory Council of AHRQ. Dr. Berwick was sworn in on July 12.

The Constitution provides an exception to the Senate confirmation process for nominations. When the Senate is in recess, the President may make a temporary appointment known as a “recess appointment” without Senate approval. President Obama is making the appointment during a recess in the middle of a session, so Dr. Berwick’s appointment will expire at the end of the following session or at the end of the first session of the 112th Congress. President Obama has made 15 recess appointments, not including Donald Berwick.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with Republican Senators John Barrasso, Pat Roberts and Tom Coburn have objected to President Obama’s move noting that confirmation hearings had not been scheduled to allow for consideration of the nominee. Senate Finance Committee staff have responded to the announcement noting that Republicans have urged Leadership to expedite Dr. Berwick’s confirmation hearing and hold his hearing before Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan’s hearing.

Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to Chairman Baucus requesting a hearing on the appointment of Dr. Berwick. The letter requests a chance for Dr. Berwick “to present his qualifications for the position in the usual process” so as not to create “a shadow over his legitimacy and authority to serve as Administrator during a critical time for CMS.”  Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee also urged a hearing with Dr. Berwick.

The Office of Management and Director Peter Orszag has announced that his last day at his post will be July 30.  President Obama announced that he will appoint Jack Lew as the new OMB Director. Mr. Lew currently serves as an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and previously worked as the budget director for former President Bill Clinton. Given the current budget deficit, the new OMB Director will certainly continue the focus on reducing the deficit.

The Chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Erskin Bowles, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, spoke to the National Governor’s Association and relayed that Congress must examine any and all proposals to contain entitlement programs, particularly Medicare and Medicaid. The Commission is required to develop a plan by December 1 to reduce the deficit.

Prior to the August recess, the Senate is expected to consider the “Small Business Lending Fund Act” (H.R. 5297), which was introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) to address the impact of the financial crisis on small businesses. The Senate will also consider the House-amended war supplementing spending bill before it adjourns. The House amended the Senate-passed bill to include Senator Herb Kohl’s (D-WI) legislation, the “Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act,” which would ban agreements between brand name and generic drug manufacturers. Senator Kohl has called such agreements “one of the most egregious tactics used to keep generic competitors off the market leaving consumers with unnecessarily high drug prices.” The Generic Pharmaceutical Association, however, expressed opposition to the amendment noting that such agreements have, at times, allowed generic drugs to come to market before the patents of the name brand drugs expire.

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