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AP-GfK Poll: Most Americans say they don’t believe Medicare has to be cut to balance the federal budget ditto …,


AP-GfK Poll: Medicare doesn’t have to be cut
May 23, 2011, 7:02 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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WASHINGTON (AP) — They’re not buying it. Most Americans say they don’t believe Medicare has to be cut to balance the federal budget, and ditto for Social Security, a new poll shows.

The Associated Press-GfK poll suggests that arguments for overhauling the massive benefit programs to pare government debt have failed to sway the public. The debate is unlikely to be resolved before next year’s elections for president and Congress.

Americans worry about the future of the retirement safety net, the poll found, and 3 out of 5 say the two programs are vital to their basic financial security as they age. That helps explain why the Republican Medicare privatization plan flopped, and why President Barack Obama’s Medicare cuts to finance his health care law contributed to Democrats losing control of the House in last year’s elections.

Medicare seems to be turning into the new third rail of politics.

“I’m pretty confident Medicare will be there, because there would be a rebellion among voters,” said Nicholas Read, 67, a retired teacher who lives near Buffalo, N.Y. “Republicans only got a hint of that this year. They got burned. They touched the hot stove.”

Combined, Social Security and Medicare account for about a third of government spending, a share that will only grow. Economic experts say the cost of retirement programs for an aging society is the most serious budget problem facing the nation. The trustees who oversee Social Security and Medicare recently warned the programs are “not sustainable” over the long run under current financing.

Nearly every solution for Social Security is politically toxic, because the choices involve cutting benefits or raising taxes. Medicare is even harder to fix because the cost of modern medicine is going up faster than the overall cost of living, outpacing economic growth as well as tax revenues.

“Medicare is an incredibly complex area,” said former Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who used to chair the Budget Committee. “It’s a matrix that is almost incomprehensible. Unlike Social Security, which has four or five moving parts, Medicare has hundreds of thousands. There is no single approach to Medicare, whereas with Social Security everyone knows where the problem is.”

That’s not what the public sees, however.

“It’s more a matter of bungling, and lack of oversight, and waste and fraud, and padding of the bureaucracy,” said Carolyn Rodgers, who lives near Memphis, Tenn., and is still working as a legal assistant at 74. “There is no reason why even Medicare, if it had been handled right, couldn’t have been solvent.”

In the poll, 54 percent said it’s possible to balance the budget without cutting spending for Medicare, and 59 percent said the same about Social Security.

Taking both programs together, 48 percent said the government could balance the budget without cutting either one. Democrats and political independents were far more likely than Republicans to say that neither program will have to be cut.

The recession cost millions their jobs and sent retirement savings accounts into a nosedive. It may also have underscored the value of government programs. Social Security kept sending monthly benefits to 55 million recipients, like clockwork; Medicare went on paying for everything from wheelchairs to heart operations.

Overall, 70 percent in the poll said Social Security is “extremely” or “very” important to their financial security in retirement, and 72 percent said so for Medicare. Sixty-two percent said that both programs are extremely or very important.

The sentiment was a lot stronger among the elderly. Eighty-four percent of those 65 or older said both programs are central to their financial security. Compare that to adults under 30, just starting out. Just under half, or 46 percent, said they believed both Social Security and Medicare would be extremely or very important to their financial security in retirement.

Old, middle-aged or just entering the workforce, most people are keenly aware of the cost of health care, and that may be helping to focus more attention on Medicare.

“Health insurance these days is very costly, and it’s not something that most people can afford to go out and buy on their own,” said Tim Messner, 38, a technology quality assurance analyst from Barberton, Ohio. “I don’t know that we could possibly plan ahead for medical insurance, but if you had to replace Social Security or investments, you at least have an idea of what you can live on.”

Numbers tell the story. As health care goes up, the value of Medicare benefits is catching up to Social Security’s. A two-earner couple with average wages retiring in 1980 would have expected to receive health care worth $132,000 through Medicare over their remaining lifetimes, and $446,000, or about three times more, in Social Security payments.

For a similar couple who retired last year, the Medicare benefit will be worth $343,000, compared to Social Security payments totaling $539,000, less than twice as much. The numbers, from economists at the nonpartisan Urban Institute, are adjusted for inflation to allow direct comparison. For low-income single retirees and some couples, the value of expected Medicare benefits already exceeds that of Social Security.

The poll found a deep current of pessimism about the future of Social Security and Medicare. As much as Americans say the programs are indispensable, only 35 percent say it’s extremely or very likely that Social Security will be there to pay benefits through their entire retirement. For Medicare, it was 36 percent.

Again, there’s a sharp difference between what the public believes and what experts say. Most experts say the programs will be there for generations to come. But they may look very different than they do today, and Americans should take note.

“Do they have a basis for worrying that these programs are going to pay them much less than they’re currently promising?” asked economist Charles Blahous. “Yes, absolutely. Do they have a basis for being concerned that the programs may have to be structurally changed in order to survive? The answer to that is yes, too.” A trustee of Social Security and Medicare, Blahous served as an economic adviser to President George W. Bush.

Republican lawmakers don’t inspire much confidence right now when it comes to dealing with retirement programs, the poll found. Democrats have the advantage as the party more trusted to do a better job handling Social Security by 52 percent to 34 percent, and Medicare by 54 percent to 33 percent. Often, but not always, major revisions have been accomplished through bipartisan compromise.

Sue DeSantis, 61, a store clerk from West Milton, Ohio, worries she won’t be able to rely on either program. Both are important to her well-being, but she thinks changes are inevitable. And she has little confidence in lawmakers.

“I don’t put my faith in politicians, and I don’t put my faith in the government,” said DeSantis. “I’m a Christian. I believe that God will take care of me. That doesn’t mean I should be foolish and not look at anything, but I don’t believe that the politicians are necessarily going to do the best for the common ordinary person like myself.”

The Associated Press-GfK poll was conducted May 5-9, 2011, by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,001 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

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Associated Press Polling Director Trevor Tompson, Deputy Director Jennifer Agiesta and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Online:

Poll results: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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President Obama: Plans Are Simple, Cut spending, raise taxes on the wealthy


Obama: Cut spending, raise taxes on the wealthy
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama coupled a call for $4 trillion in long-term deficit reductions with a blistering attack on Republican plans for taxes, Medicare and Medicaid on Wednesday, laying down markers for a roiling debate in Congress and the 2012 presidential campaign to come.

Obama said spending cuts and higher taxes alike must be part of any deficit-reduction plan, including an end to Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. He proposed an unspecified “debt failsafe” that would go into effect if Congress failed to make sure the national debt would be falling by 2014 relative to the size of the overall economy.

“We have to live within our means, reduce our deficit and get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt,” the president said in a speech at George Washington University a few blocks from the White House. “And we have to do it in a way that protects the recovery, and protects the investments we need to grow, create jobs and win the future.”

Obama’s speech was salted with calls for bipartisanship, but it also bristled with attacks on Republicans. They want to “end Medicare as we know it,” he said, and to extend tax cuts for the wealthy while demanding that seniors pay more for health care.

“That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I am president,” he vowed. Medicare serves 47 million seniors and disabled people.

Obama spoke to an audience that included Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., author of the House Republican budget that drew repeated presidential scorn. The Budget Committee chairman later told reporters he had been excited to receive an invitation to the speech, believing the administration was extending an olive branch.

“Instead, what we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate and hopelessly inadequate to addressing our country’s pressing fiscal challenges,” Ryan said. “What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander in chief. What we heard today was a political broadside from our campaigner in chief.”

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, noted that the administration has asked Congress to raise the debt limit, but said, “the American people will not stand for that unless it is accompanied by serious action to reduce our deficit. More promises, hollow targets and Washington commissions simply won’t get the job done.”

The president spoke less than a week after he reached a compromise with Boehner on an unprecedented package of $38 billion in spending cuts for this year just in time to avoid a partial government shutdown. Both houses of Congress are expected to pass the measure in the next 24 hours or so, closing the books on the current budget year and clearing the way for a far more defining debate about the size and shape of the government.

Obama stepped to the podium at a juncture when tea party-backed Republicans are relishing early victories in the House, the 2012 Republican presidential field is just beginning to take shape and moderate Democratic lawmakers are charting their re-election campaigns in swing seats. His emphasis on deficit reduction marked an appeal to independents as well as other voters who are eager to stem record annual deficits as well as gain control over a national debt that is more than $14 trillion.

At the same time, he sought to keep faith with liberals and other supporters.

To opponents of revisions in Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, he said, “I guarantee that if we don’t make any changes at all, we won’t be able to keep our commitments to a retiring generation that will live longer and face higher health care costs than those who came before.”

Of $4 trillion in cuts, Obama said $2 trillion should come from spending, $1 trillion from overhauling the tax system to eliminate some tax breaks and loopholes, and the rest recouped from lower interest payments on the national debt

Obama also wants to allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire for individuals making $200,000 or more a year and couples making $250,000 or more. The revenue that would generate is not counted in his $4 trillion in deficit reduction.

Administration officials said military spending would be reduced by $400 billion through 2023, domestic programs would absorb $770 billion in cuts and mandatory programs such as agricultural subsidies another $360 billion.

An additional $480 billion would be saved from Medicare, which provides health care principally to 33 million seniors, and from Medicaid, a state-federal program that covers lower-income families and is ticketed for a huge expansion under the health care program Obama signed into law last year.

In line with the wishes of Senate Democratic leaders, the president made no recommendations for savings from Social Security, which he said is neither in a crisis nor “a driver of our near-term deficit problems.” He said he supports unspecified steps to strengthen it for the long term, but ruled out any attempt to privatize it.

The president also urged Congress to pass tax changes, and he suggested he was open to curtailing a homeowners’ tax deduction that can currently be claimed by filers at all income levels.

Obama’s plan relied on some of the same deficit reduction measures proposed in December by a bipartisan fiscal commission he appointed. The president is scheduled to meet Thursday at the White House with the co-chairmen of the commission, Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson.

Neither Obama nor his aides distributed any detailed accounting of the effect of his recommendations on the deficit, which is expected to top $1.5 trillion this year, or the debt, now more than $14 trillion.

Obama saved some of his sharpest rhetoric for Republican proposals to end traditional Medicare for anyone currently under 55, and to give the states near-total control over Medicaid.

For Medicare, he said, “It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn’t worth enough to buy insurance, tough luck — you’re on your own.”

He said the Republican budget could cost 50 million Americans health care coverage in all, including grandparents needing nursing home care, children with autism and kids “with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.”

The debt has grown for much of the past few decades, with the exception of a brief period after President Bill Clinton and Republicans in Congress reached a compromise that permitted payments to reduce it.

Even a recounting of the debt’s history had a political subtext.

Beginning in 2000, the president said, “we increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug programs, but we didn’t pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts.” That was a reference to policies pursued by President George W. Bush and the Republicans who controlled Congress for six of his eight years in office.

Obama made a glancing reference to the 2012 presidential race, saying that some of his potential Republican rivals had signed onto the budget House republicans are advancing.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one likely GOP candidate, issued a statement that said Obama had “dug deep into his liberal playbook for solutions highlighted by higher taxes.”

Another, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said that with his speech, the president showed a “lack of seriousness on deficit reduction.”

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President Barack Obama turning his attention to the nation’s crushing debt


Obama pivots, eyes Medicare changes, tax increases
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama, two years into a presidency that increased spending to prime a weak economy, is turning his attention to the nation’s crushing debt and trying to counter a Republican anti-deficit plan with a framework of his own that tackles politically sensitive health care programs while also increasing taxes.

The president on Wednesday was to deliver a speech outlining his proposal to reduce spending in Medicare and Medicaid, raise taxes on the wealthy and cut defense costs. In a pre-emptive response Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called any proposed tax increase “a nonstarter.”

The White House wouldn’t offer details of the president’s approach ahead of the speech. But an official commenting on the condition of anonymity said the plan borrows from the December recommendations of Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission, which proposed $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.

In a preview of the speech, the White House said it aims to achieve “balanced” deficit reduction by keeping domestic spending low, reducing the defense budget, cutting excess health care spending in the nation’s biggest benefit programs, and eliminating loopholes and breaks in the tax system.

Obama’s speech will draw contrasts with a Republican plan that cuts $5 trillion in spending over the next decade and which the White House says unfairly singles out middle-class taxpayers, older adults and the poor.

This new clash, just a week after the president announced he would seek re-election, ensures that the nation’s fiscal health will be at the center of the 2012 presidential campaign. For the past two months, Obama has been arguing to protect his core spending priorities, including education and innovation. His turn to deficit reduction reflects the pressures he faces in a divided Congress and with a public increasingly anxious about the nation’s debt, now exceeding $14 trillion.

The president is wading into a potential political thicket. Liberals fear he will propose cuts in prized Democratic programs like Medicare and Medicaid, the health care programs for older adults, the disabled and the poor, and in Social Security. Moderates worry that his plan could unravel bipartisan deficit-cutting negotiations. And Republicans already are poised to reject any proposal that includes tax increases.

For the White House, the speech at George Washington University comes as Obama pushes Congress to raise the limit on the national debt, which will permit the government to borrow more and thus meet its financial obligations. The country will reach its debt limit of $14.3 trillion by May 16. The Treasury Department has warned that failure to raise it by midsummer would drive up the cost of borrowing and destroy the economic recovery.

Republicans have said they would not raise the debt ceiling without deficit reduction, or at least without the White House showing progress toward sizable cuts in long-term spending. White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated the White House view Tuesday that passage of a higher debt ceiling should not be encumbered with deficit-reduction legislation.

Pressure from Congress, however, eventually could result in a debt ceiling deal that includes fiscal discipline measures, though not necessarily a wholesale restructuring of government benefit programs.

Obama will brief Congress’ bipartisan leadership in the contents of his speech Wednesday morning at the White House.

Obama’s speech comes just before Congress votes on a $38 billion package of spending cuts that averted a government shutdown last week. Despite widespread antipathy toward the deal in both parties, House Republicans and the White House predicted the plan, which covers spending for the next six months, would pass.

As for the bigger, long-term deficit proposal, the White House was keeping a tight lid on details. But Carney made clear the president would call for changes in Medicare and Medicaid. Obama also was expected to resurrect the tax increases on wealthy Americans that he put off in December as part of a tax deal with Congress.

“He believes that there has to be a balanced approach” to reducing long-term deficits, Carney said. “And that’s entitlements, tax expenditures and defense.”

The president’s proposal is meant to be in sharp contrast with the plan offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan., R-Wis. That budget proposal, embraced by the House Republican leadership, would reduce spending by more than $5 trillion over 10 years with structural overhauls to Medicare and Medicaid while also making permanent all Bush-era tax cuts.

“Where the president believes the House Republican plan fails starkly is that it is imbalanced, that it places all the burden on the middle class, on seniors, on the disabled, on people in nursing homes, through its rather drastic reform of Medicare and Medicaid,” Carney said.

Obama could face resistance from Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Tuesday reiterated his opposition to changes in Social Security.

The president’s speech also comes as six senators — three Republicans and three Democrats — have been working on a bipartisan compromise that would tackle Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security costs but also seek to raise more revenue through tax increases. Obama’s decision to give a speech caught those senators by surprise. The Democrats are Mark Warner of Virginia, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Kent Conrad of North Dakota. The Republicans are Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Senate aides said members of that so-called Gang of Six would not attend the speech to avoid any suggestion that they supported the president’s view or that the president endorsed their work.

Meanwhile, Republicans were already girding for a confrontation.

“If the president begins the discussion by saying we must increase taxes on the American people — as his budget does — my response will be clear: Tax increases are unacceptable and are a nonstarter,” Boehner declared Tuesday. “We don’t have deficits because Americans are taxed too little, we have deficits because Washington spends too much.”

In the Senate, the top Republican on the Budget Committee said Obama needed to offer not just a speech but a new budget with detailed deficit-cutting proposals.

“We can begin a conversation if his proposal is substantive and is capable of evaluation, even if I might disagree with it,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said. “What I don’t find acceptable at this late date is just another speech with vague generalities.”

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GOP 2012 budget to make $4 trillion-plus in cuts


GOP 2012 budget to make $4 trillion-plus in cuts
Associated Press
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner and Founder of: https://economicnewsblog.wordpress.com and http://LedSomeBioMetrics.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican plan for the 2012 budget would cut more than $4 trillion over the next decade, more than even the president’s debt commission proposed, with spending caps as well as changes in the Medicare and Medicaid health programs, its principal author said Sunday.

The spending blueprint from Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is to be released Tuesday. It deals with the budget year that begins Oct. 1, not the current one that is the subject of negotiations aimed at preventing a partial government shutdown on Friday.

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Ryan said budget writers are working out the 2012 numbers with the Congressional Budget Office, but he said the overall spending reductions would come to “a lot more” than $4 trillion. The debt commission appointed by President Barack Obama recommended a plan that it said would achieve nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction.

Ryan said Obama‘s call for freezing nondefense discretionary spending actually locks in spending at high levels. Under the forthcoming GOP plan, Ryan said spending would return to 2008 levels and thus cut an additional $400 billion over 10 years.

Speaking broadly about the proposal, Ryan said it would include:

—A “premium support system” for Medicare. In the future, older people would choose plans in the marketplace and the government would subsidize those plans. Ryan said that would differ from the voucher system he has proposed in the past. Those 55 and older would remain under the present Medicare system.

Ryan acknowledged that the “premium support system” would shift more costs to Medicare recipients, especially what he called “wealthy seniors.” He did not define at what level someone would be considered wealthy.

—Block grants to states for Medicaid, the health program for the poor. Ryan disputed reports that the plan would seek savings of $1 trillion over 10 years from Medicaid, but would say only that the details would be in the plan.

“Medicare and Medicaid spending will go up every single year under our budget. They don’t just go up as much as they’re going right now,” he said. Ryan said governors have told members of Congress they want “the freedom to customize our Medicaid programs. … We want to get governors freedom to do that.”

—A statutory cap on actual discretionary spending as a percentage of the economy. While Ryan did not specify the amount during the interview, he said it would be at a lower level than proposed by Obama and would return the government to its “historic size.”

—Pro-growth tax changes, including lower tax rates and broadening the tax base. Ryan said overhauling taxes would boost the economy. The plan will not propose tax increases.

Ryan was a member of the bipartisan debt commission but voted against its final recommendations, saying they failed to reduce spending on health care. The commission also endorsed tax increases along with painful spending cuts as necessary to dealing with the debt problem.

“We’re not going to go down the path of raising taxes on people and raising taxes on the economy. We want to go after the source of the problem, and that is spending,” Ryan said Sunday.

Ryan didn’t mention how the budget plan would address Social Security.

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, slammed Ryan’s plan in a press release Sunday. “It is not courageous to protect tax breaks for millionaires, oil companies and other big-money special interests while slashing our investment in education, ending the current health care guarantees for seniors on Medicare, and denying health care coverage to tens of millions of Americans,” Van Hollen said.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia was skeptical that Ryan’s proposal could achieve its targets without damaging social programs. He also questioned whether reductions in defense spending and seeking more revenue through tax reform would be part of the plan.

“I don’t know how you get there without taking basically a meat ax to those programs who protect the most vulnerable in the country,” Warner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I’ll give anybody the benefit of a doubt until I get a chance to look at the details,” he said, “but I think the only way you’re going to really get there is if you put all of these things, including defense spending, including tax reform, as part of the overall package.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., part of a six-member group of Republicans and Democrats forging their own budget proposal, said that the lawmakers would be looking for “real balance” in Ryan’s plan and wanting all options considered.

“I think we’ll come at it differently,” Durbin said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “The idea of sparing the Pentagon from any savings, not imposing any new sacrifice on the wealthiest Americans, I think goes way too far. We have got to make certain that it’s a balanced approach and one that can be sustained over the next 10 years.”

Ryan criticized Obama, telling Fox that the president was “punting on the budget and not doing a thing to prevent a debt crisis, which every single economist tells us is coming sooner rather than later in this country.”

“You have to address the drivers of our debt,” he said. “We need to engage with the American people on a fact-based budget, on stopping politicians from making empty promises to people and talk to the country about what is necessary to fix these problems.”

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Don’t expect to find an easy answer in his new budget – Obama’s budget offers few clues on health overhaul


Obama‘s budget offers few clues on health overhaul
Feb. 22, 2011, 3:51 p.m. EST
Article Published by Associated Press Writers
Article Posted Here by Public Blog News Posting Service Group

WASHINGTON (AP) — How many federal bureaucrats does it take to carry out President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul? Don’t expect to find an easy answer in his new budget.

It has no line item for health care implementation, a task delegated to agencies in several government departments, each with its own procedures — and quirks — to account for spending and hiring.

Republicans suspect a dodge to make it harder for them to track the money as they strategize over how to block the law by shutting off the spigot of federal funds.

“They are absolutely hiding the ball with this budget,” complained Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees Medicare and tax laws. “We don’t know the cost of the health care bill or how many people they are going to hire. All of this needs to be flushed out.”

Administration officials say the $3.7 trillion budget may be hard to read, but it’s all in there. Somewhere.

“Nothing is being hidden,” said Richard Sorian, a spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department, which is leading the effort to expand health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people by 2014.

It’s just that it may not be easy to see.

Part of the reason, the White House says, is that multi-tasking government workers are expected to carry out the health care law along with their other duties. “When you look at an agency, it’s very hard to say this person works only on that law,” explained Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the president’s budget office.

“The Affordable Care Act is built on top and interwoven with existing statutes and authorities, and it would be extremely difficult to separate or disaggregate the impact of that on the budget,” said Baer.

Some agencies have been more helpful with details than others.

The Internal Revenue Service, for example, says it will need 58 revenue agents to enforce the law’s 10 percent sales tax on indoor tanning, which went into effect last year.

“As many as 25,000 businesses provide indoor tanning services,” says the agency’s budget. “These entities typically do not have experience filing federal excise tax returns.” It looks like that will soon change. The IRS expects to close 1,000 tanning tax cases annually by 2013.

Overall, Treasury’s budget includes $473 million and 1,270 employees to administer the health care law. A spokeswoman said most of them won’t be working on enforcement. Many will be helping with tax credits intended to make health insurance more affordable for small businesses and households. Others will be setting up new technology. The IRS will eventually be responsible for collecting fines from taxpayers who ignore a new requirement to carry insurance.

HHS, the hub of health care implementation, is providing less budget detail. The department says only 252 people will be working full-time on the new law, all of those in the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. The new agency was part of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius‘ office last year and has been transferred to the HHS division that oversees Medicare.

Most of the rest of the work will be handled by multi-tasking employees, said spokesman Sorian.

Overall, HHS says it’s getting $465 million to carry out the law. About $120 million goes to the Administration on Aging, which is trying to salvage one of the law’s major new programs, a voluntary long-term care insurance fund intended to help elderly and disabled people avoid going into nursing homes. The Community Living Assistance Services and Support program would provide a benefit of at least $50 a day in cash to help with expenses such as paying a caregiver.

But Sebelius told lawmakers last week she’s concerned the program as written by Congress is financially unsustainable, while confident that premiums, eligibility rules and other factors can be tweaked to fix the problems. The law gave HHS authority to make significant changes in the long-term care plan.

Republicans want to repeal the whole law, but if they can’t succeed, they’ll try to pick off the long-term care plan. Last week, the GOP-led House voted to deny the administration any money to carry out Obama’s overhaul.

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Online:

Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight: http://www.hhs.gov/cciio/

Government’s health care site: http://www.healthcare.gov

Administration on Aging: http://www.aoa.gov
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