Budget Process and Rules
Yesterday the CBO delivered a cost estimate for instituting permanent Medicare physician payment updates by repealing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. The CBO estimates that repealing SGR, as S. 1776 calls for, would increase spending by $247 over the next ten years.
Update: Debate on this issue got pushed back until today in the Senate. CRFB recently released this press release on the issue: Don't Let Doc Fix Add to the Debt: Updates to Physician Payments Must be Paid For.
The Senate opened debate today on a bill that would end mandated cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, an issue that has been gaining traction since the Finance Committee passed health overhaul legislation last week. While the cost of patching Medicare physician payment updates is likely to be around $245 billion over the next decade, the Finance bill does not factor in this cost.
Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:
Today, the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform issued its first policy paper, “A Closer Look at the President’s FY 2010 Budget Process Reform Proposals.”
We think triggers can be helpful in budgeting, by providing a back-up plan for when estimates prove wrong or conditions change, and by helping politicians to make hard choices.
REVISED: Today, CRFB issued a press release commenting on the President's statement last night on developing a trigger to ensure that any health care bill not add to the deficit. "A trigger should be part of a fiscally responsible health care plan; but it's not a cure all," said Maya MacGuineas, President of CRFB.
Last week, we wrote about $85 billion worth of stimulus tax cuts which the Obama administration assumed as permanant in their baseline so that they wouldn't have to pay for them.
This morning, Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post reported on the decision of the Obama administration to incorporate $85 billion in tax breaks from the stimulus package into baseline figures of current policy.
Today, US Budget Watch released The Cost of “Current Policy”. In this analysis, we show that, while deeply troublesome, CBO’s $7.1 trillion ten-year deficit projection is, if anything, optimistic. Continuing some current policies – such as renewing the 2001/2003 tax cuts, patching the AMT, averting cuts in Medicare physician payments, and allowing discretionary spending to grow at its historical pace – will result in significantly higher deficits.