Thursday, August 4, 2011

Debt Ceiling Deal Reached!

Earlier this week Congress and the Administration brought together a debt ceiling deal that avoided possible U.S. Government Default and implemented a structure by which the debt ceiling will be raised, spending cuts will be enacted, and further automatic cuts will happen should Congress and the Administration not agree on additional savings.

The debt ceiling agreement and subsequent actions in Congress are important to the National MS Society because it is estimated that approximately 40% of people living with MS rely on Medicaid or Medicare or a combination of both for their health care needs. Changes to these programs are therefore quite important and a top priority for the Public Policy Office.

 In addition to agreeing to hold a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the ‘Budget Control Act’ encompassed the following two key components:

1. Nearly $1 Trillion in cuts over 10 years by enacting discretionary spending caps

• The President gets authority to immediately increase the debt ceiling by $400 billion (to take us through Sept 2011) then another $500 billion happens automatically unless Congress passes a measure of disapproval (which would then be vetoed).

2. Creation of a 12 Member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction in Congress to identify another $1.2 to $1.5 Trillion in cuts by November 23, with votes taken by December 23.

 • Often referred to as a ‘super committee, it must identify and Congress must enact $1.2 trillion in debt reduction by end of year or a trigger kicks in which will sequester that amount through automatic, across the board cuts.  (For a Q & A on the Committee see Kaiser Health)

 • If the committee approves and Congress passes debt reduction less than $1.2 trillion, the automatic spending reductions would make up the difference. For example, if Congress only enacts $800 billion, then $400 billion will happen through across the board cuts.

 • The committee can consider any part of the budget including entitlements (such as Medicaid) and revenues.

 • Cuts to entitlements (to elicit savings) are likely to occur through policy changes, or structural reforms of the program(s). Policy changes could include greater state flexibility and federal waivers (impacting Medicaid possibly).

 • If at least $1.2 trillion in savings is enacted, then the debt ceiling increases again, dollar for dollar, automatically, which will take us through 2012.

The debt bill exempts Social Security, Medicaid, and low income entitlement programs from sequestration, however, if the $1.2 billion in savings is not enacted, then Medicare provider and plan reimbursement can be cut but up to 2% as part of the sequester. The across the board cuts through sequestration would be split, 50% defense and 50% non-defense spending which creates incentive for the super-committee to actually put forward a plan.

The Society is pleased that Medicaid has been spared immediate cuts and has been exempted from potential across the board cuts down the road. We thank champions on Capitol Hill for helping make this happen. Moving forward, the Society will continue to collaborate with organizational partners to educate Capitol Hill about the importance of programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security to people living with disabilities. Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in with your members of Congress and help protect these vital programs! If you are not signed up to receive the Society’s federal action alerts, be sure to sign up through this site ( TODAY!

[For additional information on the financial burdens facing people living with MS, here is a fact sheet]


Kristi said...

Medicaid hasn't been spared and Medicare hasn't been spared. We didn't need a 2,000 page bill to stop waste/fraud and abuse. After working in Medicare Part B for several years-several years ago-the same waste/fraud and abuse continues today as was going on back then. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will throw MILLIONS more people into the Medicaid program. The politicians have told us that the illegal aliens would not be covered. But that will not stop them from using the medical facilities, who are required by law to treat them. Who will pay those facilities? Nobody. Those facilities will be forced to close and leave those of us with health issues without a treatment facility/physician. It's a scam. If I have the FREEDOM to make my own decision about my health care then I should be given that choice. The government doesn't know what is best for me, so why do people think it is OK for them to dictate my treatment? Meanwhile, we still get stuck paying the high cost of the Cadillac Plans for the very politicians that have taken away our freedom of choice. Medicare currently has MILLIONS in UNFUNDED LIABILITIES. Medicare will be bankrupt within 5 years if left unfixed. The day our government actually upholds their oath of office, by defending this country and it's citizens, will be the day they get serious about the very criminals that continue to bleed our system dry-on the backs of the seniors and disabled. The Medicaid system is MUCH worse. Many states, like Illinois, are cutting back programs for the seniors and disabled to fund Medicaid to the illegal aliens. Excuse me, but I have worked the past 35 years paying into the system NOT FOR THE ILLEGALS, but for me. Now my children must pay for the illegals while I go without. There is NO "hope" in the "change"'s all lip service.

bob0421 said...

I am the chairperson of the Maine Government Relations Committee of the Greater New England Chapter.

Your comment is well thought out and expresses your concerns. I am fairly confident that your concerns are not unique to you. You have a voice that needs to be heard as the process of designing the rules and implementation of those rules moves forward.
Thru activism you can be heard. Might I suggest that you consider becoming active in our Government Relations Committee.

I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about what we try to do on the committee and how you might be able to gain that voice.

If you are a resident of Maine and were to contact the chapter office, I'm certain they can get the contact information to me.