House Lawmakers Offer Different Blueprints for Budget, Medicare
On Monday, House Budget Committee Democrats released a fiscal year 2014 budget proposal to compete with budget proposals introduced last week by Budget Committee Republicans and Senate Democrats, The Hill's "On The Money" reports (Wasson, "On The Money," The Hill, 3/18).
The conservative Republican Study Committee on Monday also unveiled a FY 2014 spending blueprint as an alternative to House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal (Krawzak, CQ Roll Call, 3/18).
Details of House Democrats' Budget Proposal
The Democratic plan -- by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Budget Committee -- would reduce the federal deficit by $1.8 trillion over a decade, compared with $1.75 trillion for the Senate Democratic proposal and $5.7 trillion for Ryan's plan (Wasson, "On The Money," The Hill, 3/18).
It would achieve a balanced budget by 2045 with $1.2 trillion in new tax revenues and $624 billion in spending cuts, which do not include any spending reductions to Medicare and Medicaid, Van Hollen said (CQ Roll Call, 3/18).
He added that his plan would replace the nine years of mandated spending cuts under sequestration, which took effect on March 1 (Wasson, "On The Money," The Hill, 3/18). According to CQ Roll Call, the sequestration cuts are expected to be replaced with other deficit reductions, which would allow for about $1.06 trillion in discretionary spending in FY 2014 (CQ Roll Call, 3/18).
Van Hollen's proposal is expected to be taken up for a vote as an amendment to Ryan's spending plan, "On The Money" reports (Wasson, "On The Money," The Hill, 3/18).
Details of RSC Budget Proposal
The RSC spending blueprint -- written by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) -- would eliminate the federal deficit and achieve a balanced budget in four years, in part by phasing in Ryan's plan to turn Medicare into a premium-support system five years earlier and gradually raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 70 beginning in 2024, "On The Money" reports.
In addition, the proposal includes Ryan's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and proposes deeper discretionary spending cuts, which would be capped at $950 billion until the budget balances in 2017. Woodall said his proposal would "make tougher decisions today" to "end our economic crisis even earlier. However, he noted that unlike Ryan's budget plan, his plan might not secure the 218 votes necessary in the House for final passage (Berman, "On The Money," The Hill, 3/18).
Senate Advances Democratic Amendment to Continuing Resolution Extension Bill
Meanwhile, the Senate on Monday voted 63-35 to end further debate on a Democratic-sponsored substitute amendment to the House-approved continuing resolution extension bill (HR 933), which would keep the federal government funded through FY 2013, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" reports (Cox, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 3/18).
The vote to invoke cloture on the Senate bill allowed the Democratic leadership to table about 100 amendments that had been filed for votes on Tuesday, according to CQ Roll Call (Ota/Young, CQ Roll Call, 3/18). Monday's cloture vote paves the way for a full Senate vote on the amendment scheduled on Tuesday (Taylor, AP/U-T San Diego, 3/18).
Sequestration Cuts Affecting Federal Efforts To Combat Medicare Fraud
Meanwhile, as lawmakers grapple over competing spending proposals and continue to work toward a comprehensive deal to reduce the federal deficit, CMS is preparing to absorb a 5% overall spending cut for FY 2013 under sequestration, which would affect all programs intended to combat fraud and improper payments, CQ Weekly reports.
According to CMS, the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control account -- which coordinates federal, state and local law enforcement efforts related to fraud and abuse -- has had an average return on investment of $7.90 per dollar spent for the past three years. In FY 2012, the program recovered a record $4.2 billion in improper payments.
Under sequestration, the program's discretionary spending account will be reduced by $16 million and its mandatory account will face a $41 million cut, according to the Office of Management and Budget (Ethridge, CQ Weekly, 3/18).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.