Jeffrey: Why Congress Must Stop $105.5 Billion in Automatic Obamacare Spending
Thanks to the irrepressible Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who is emerging as the most energetic and principled conservative leader of the 112th Congress, the Congressional Research Service published a report on Feb. 10 detailing how the Obama administration is planning to spend $105.5 billion that was put on an appropriations autopilot in the health care legislation the Democrat-majority Congress enacted last year.
Unless the Republican-controlled House in this Congress can force President Obama to sign new legislation forbidding disbursal of this $105.5 billion, the administration will spend it to lay the basic foundations for a socialistic health care system in the United States.
The CRS report includes a 12-page table itemizing a broad array of intrusions into the prerogatives of states and individuals authorized by provisions in the Obamacare law and funded for this and future years without the need of Congress passing the customary annual appropriations laws to underwrite them.
According to the CRS report, the automatically funded Obamacare items include, among others:
-- Whatever amount the secretary of health and human services determines is necessary for "each fiscal year" for "grants to states to plan and establish exchanges" for selling federally approved, federally subsidized health insurance plans. On the last day of fiscal 2010, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius approved an initial $49 million in grants for this purpose. In January, according to CRS, HHS "encouraged states to apply" for additional grants this year.
-- $6 billion for Sebelius "to establish the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program to provide funding until July 1, 2013, for the creation of non-profit member-run health insurance issuers that offer" government-approved health insurance plans. This would be the Haight-Ashbury branch of our new socialized medical system.
-- $500 million for Sebelius to establish, as Section 3026 of Obamacare puts it, "a Community-Based Care Transitions Program under which the Secretary provides funding to eligible entities that furnish improved care transition services to high-risk Medicare beneficiaries."
Under the Obamacare law, a "high risk Medicare beneficiary" is "a Medicare beneficiary who has attained a minimum hierarchical condition category score, as determined by the secretary, based on a diagnosis of multiple chronic conditions or other risk factors associated with a hospital readmission or substandard transition into post-hospitalization care, which may include 1 or more of the following: (A) Cognitive impairment. (B) Depression. (C) A history of multiple readmissions. (D) Any other chronic disease or risk factor as determined by the Secretary." In plain English: This $500 million for "community-based organizations" to take control of ill, elderly people.
-- $15 million so the administration can put together a Medicare "Payment Advisory Board." The CRS description of this board is a masterpiece in double-talk. "Creates an independent, 15-member Payment Advisory Board tasked with presenting Congress with comprehensive proposals to reduce excess cost growth and improve quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries," it says. "In years when Medicare costs are projected to exceed a target growth rate, the board's proposals will take effect unless Congress passes an alternative measure that achieves the same level of savings."
So, how will this board's virtually automatic provisions to "reduce excess cost growth" in Medicare work? The CRS description says: "The board would be prohibited from making proposals that ration care, raise taxes, or increase Part B premiums, or change Medicare benefit, eligibility, or cost-sharing standards."
This is like Obama saying he won't raise taxes on the middle class, but will have the IRS charge them a "penalty" if they don't buy health insurance. When the "Payment Advisory Board" orders rationing, it will call it something else: We are not rationing. We are just prohibiting payment for antibiotics for patients over 80 with pneumonia.
-- $9.5 billion, as the Obamacare law puts it, "to establish a Community Health Center Fund (referred to in this section as the 'CHC Fund'), to be administered through the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to provide for expanded and sustained national investment in community health centers." The Hyde Amendment, which only applies to funds appropriated by a law to which it has been attached, was not attached to the Obamacare law. Thus, "community health centers" funded by this $9.5 billion would not be statutorily prohibited from aborting babies.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., joined with Steve King in sending a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., asking them to include language in any new continuing resolution prohibiting the administration from spending any of the $105.5 billion in automatic funding built into the Obamacare law.
"If we do not stand our ground on the CR, leverage it as the 'must pass bill' that it is, and use it to stop the $105.5 billion in automatically appropriated funds, Obamacare will be implemented on our watch," King and Bachmann wrote the Republican leaders.
Boehner and Cantor did not heed King and Bachmann. They pushed a CR that did not stop the $105.5 billion in automatic spending.
Now every American who opposes a government takeover of our health care system should ask Boehner and Cantor: How exactly are you going to stop this $105.5 billion? Or are you going to let Obama spend it?