AARP, Children’s Hospitals Oppose Budget Provisions
AARP has announced opposition to a provision in the fiscal year 2007 budget resolution passed last week by the Senate Budget Committee that would implement a point of order against legislation to increase entitlement spending in the event the general fund contribution to Medicare exceeds 45% for two consecutive years, CongressDaily reports. Under the point of order, legislation to increase entitlement spending would have to include tax increases or other spending reductions to offset the cost.
David Sloan, director of advocacy for AARP, said that the provision is "dangerous" and would "ultimately hold Medicare and other mandatory federal programs hostage to rising health care costs." Sloane added, "These unbalanced limitations would apply to no other spending programs, nor would it apply to the revenue side of the ledger" (Cohn, CongressDaily, 3/10).
In other budget news, the FY 2007 budget proposed by President Bush would reduce spending for graduate medical education at children's hospitals by 67%, from $297 million to $99 million, a move that advocates maintain would place health care for U.S. children at risk, CQ HealthBeat reports. The GME program in 2006 provided an average subsidy of $4.9 million to 61 children's hospitals, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
OMB officials said that spending on the program, which began under the administration of former President Bill Clinton, has increased eightfold and that the proposed reduction in spending would be "directed to those hospitals with the greatest financial need that treat the largest number of uninsured patients and train the greatest number of physicians."
Peter Willson, vice president of public policy for the National Association of Children's Hospitals, said that the reduction in spending on the program would harm children's hospitals, which train 30% of U.S. pediatricians and the majority of pediatric subspecialists. Willson added that a reduction in spending on the program also could force children's hospitals to limit medical research.
Bush proposed a similar spending reduction for the program in his FY 2006 budget, but Congress did not approve the provision (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 3/10).