HHS Not Seeking Extra Funding To Implement New Health Reform Law
On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the Obama administration will not seek funding above HHS' fiscal year 2011 budget to implement the new health reform law, Reuters reports.
The nearly $1 trillion overhaul includes $1 billion for HHS to implement the law (Smith, Reuters, 4/21). According to CQ HealthBeat, HHS' FY 2011 budget request was made before the overhaul legislation passed and does not include funding for the new reform law's implementation (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 4/21).
The Congressional Budget Office previously estimated that HHS would need $2 billion annually over the next 10 years to adequately implement the new health reform law (Reuters, 4/21).
During her testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies, Sebelius said HHS' budget request will remain the same -- $911 billion for FY 2011 -- adding that the administration would defer to Congress to determine whether more money is needed to pay for discretionary programs in the new reform law.
Sebelius said, "If the priorities for Congress are to move ahead on those programs, I assume they will be funded, but we have our 2011 budget submission." She noted that the administration's top priorities in its budget request include strategies to raise the quality and safety standards of care in the U.S. health care system, protect public health and lower medical error rates and cases of fraud and abuse.
Sebelius also assured the lawmakers that extending coverage to more people under the new reform law would be covered by the budget (Barr, BNA, 4/21).
Tiahrt Estimates Future Funding Request
Subcommittee ranking member Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) predicted that the administration eventually would seek more money from Congress to pay for programs that do not have specific spending limits under the overhaul (Reuters, 4/21). He said that at least $100 billion in new funding would be required for such programs (CQ HealthBeat, 4/21).
Tiahrt also raised concern that the $5 billion allocated through the new reform law to implement a temporary high-risk insurance pools program for people with pre-existing conditions until 2014 is inadequate.
Health care analysts also have questioned whether that amount is enough to fund the program until the new insurance exchanges replace the program. Sebelius did not speculate if those funds would be adequate (Reuters, 4/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.