Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


Joint Deficit Reduction Committee

The co-chairs of the Joint Committee formed under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the BCA, P.L. 112-25), Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Jeb Hensarling released a statement as to the measures they are taking during the August recess to ready the committee for its directive to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions by November 23rd.  They said “we are engaging in serious discussions to determine what set of rules will govern the committee’s operation, examining a schedule of potential meetings and exploring how to build a committee staff that will help us achieve success….most of the committee members are reviewing the deficit reduction work that many others have engaged in over the past several years….with a short time-table for success, it’s important to get it right the first time.”  In addition, the White House said some of the ideas for a “grand bargain” the President discussed privately with House Speaker John Boehner may be raised again with the joint committee.  The committee’s work will be made more difficult in that CBO estimated that the FY 2011 federal budget deficit will amount to about $1.28 trillion, or 8.5% of GDP.  Of note, CBO projections assume that all of the budget savings included under the BCA will be realized and that the scheduled Medicare provider payment cuts occur.  CBO said that if the savings from the budget deal do not materialize or if the government delays making cuts to the Medicare physician payment schedule, average deficits from 2012 through 2021 are likely to make up 4.3% of GDP.

Appropriations Matters

House Appropriations Budget Chairman Harold Rogers recently said that, with FY 2012 looming on October 1, he will work to avoid another appropriations stalemate and use the FY 2012 spending limits enacted under the BCA (an overall discretionary spending cap of $1.043 trillion) as targets for the 12 appropriations bills.  Some House Republicans who voted against the BCA continue to promote further cuts as contained in the House passed budget resolution for FY 2012 ($1.019 trillion).  However, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor released a statement to House Republicans urging them to go along with the BCA spending regimen.  To accomplish this and avoid a point of order for greater spending than under the budget resolution, it is likely the House Rules Committee will adopt a rule granting a waiver of the lower budget resolution targets.

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