Debt Debate Puts HME on the Chopping Block
Providers urged to tell lawmakers 'no more cuts to homecare' as Congress, President wrangle.
- By David Kopf
- Jul 20, 2011
As Congress and the White House continue to debate the federal budget, the nation is fast-approaching its debt ceiling, and some of the plans being debated by Congress and the President include options that could mean additional cuts for HME funding from Medicare.
With two weeks left before the U.S. hits the debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion, Congress is debating how to best get out from under it. The two options are spending cuts or tax increases in varying degrees. Some of the options being discussed would impose additional cuts to HME fuding.
The American Association for Homecare reports that it is working with members of the House and Senate to prevent the inclusion of HME cuts in the final debt ceiling legislation, and is encouraging providers to contact their lawmakers and drive home the point that they must not make additional cuts to homecare.
The association highlighted three key proposals being debated that providers should monitor:
- Last night the House passed a package called “Cut, Cap and Balance," under which discretionary budget authority would be capped at about $1 trillion for FY 2012, and discretionary spending would be capped at $1.22 trillion. The plan also requires the passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution before the Treasury Department is allowed to borrow money above these caps. An amendment to the Constitution requires two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and must be ratified by three-fourths of the States (38 of 50 States).
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also developed a proposal, which would lock in about $1.5 trillion in spending cuts, while allowing the president to authorize additional federal borrowing through the 2012 election. McConnell is working with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in the hope this proposal will gain enough bipartisan support to pass in the House and Senate.
- A small group of Senate moderates, known as the “Gang of Six” has resurfaced in the debate. This group is made up of Senators Conrad (D-N.D.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Warner (D-Va.), Coburn (R-Okla.), Crapo (R-Idaho), and Chambliss (R-GA). Their proposal would slash the deficit by $3.7 trillion over 10 years, in part by raising about $1 trillion in new revenue. President Obama has praised the proposal and stated it was “a very significant step.”
David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.