Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, March 26th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments
A day after Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and ten other House members compromised on their pro-life position to deliver the necessary yes-votes to pass health care reform, the “Stupak 11” released their fiscal year 2011 earmark requests, which total more than $4.7 billion–an average of $429 million worth of earmark requests for each lawmaker.
Of the eight lawmakers whose 2010 requests were available for comparison, five requested more money this week than they did a year ago: Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa., Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Ohio.
The eleven members were the focus of high level pressure by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats because they threatened to vote against the health care reform bill, which passed the House on Sunday, March 21, by a seven vote margin. Granting earmark requests are one of the ways leadership can encourage members to vote their way.
Stupak requested more than $578 million in earmarks, including $125 million for a replacement lock on the Sault Ste. Marie, $25.6 million to build a federal courthouse in Marquette, Mich., $15 million to repaint the Mackinac Bridge and $800,000 to preserve the Quincy Mining Company smelter near Hancock in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
So good luck running on your pro-ObamReidNannerMcBotoxCare vote this fall.
Arizona must drop a plan to cut its Medicaid program’s generous eligibility and instead pay an additional $3.8 billion over the next three years under the federal health care overhaul, state officials reported Thursday.
Arizona also stands to pay billions of dollars more in subsequent years than less generous other states would have to pay, even after increased federal funding starts in 2014, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System said in a report.
Gov. Jan Brewer and the Republican-led Legislature included a rollback of AHCCCS eligibility to help balance the $8.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year. The rollback would have dropped 310,000 people, roughly a quarter of the 1.3 million people now served.
But AHCCCS officials concluded Thursday that the health care overhaul’s so-called “maintenance of effort” requirements require Arizona to keep its Medicaid program at current levels in order to keep getting federal dollars. They said the state will incur $3.8 billion of added costs for its Medicaid population before increased federal funding starts in 2014.
Which leads us to this. The Pew Research Center recently asked 1,500 adults for a one-word impression of the US Congress. The following words came up most often.
Dysfunctional, corrupt, self-serving, self-centered, selfish, self-absorbed, inept, confused, incompetent, ineffective, lazy, bad, suck(s), poor, crook(s), crooked, disappointing, gridlock, deadlock, idiots, idiotic, slow, mess, messed up, messy, lousy, terrible, disorganized, unorganized, divided, good, stupid, children, childish, child-like, dissatisfied, do nothing, failing, failure, inadequate, greedy, joke, jokers, not good, partisan, socialist, useless, worthless, bull(expletive), chaos, clowns, frustrating, frustrated, horrible, inefficient, liberal, liars, money-hungry.
It’s going to be an interesting couple of years around these here parts.
The health care overhaul will cost U.S. companies billions and make them more likely to drop prescription drug coverage for retirees because of a change in how the government subsidizes those benefits.
In the first two days after the law was signed, three major companies — Deere & Co., Caterpillar Inc. and Valero Energy — said they expect to take a total hit of $265 million to account for smaller tax deductions in the future.
With more than 3,500 companies now getting the tax break as an incentive to keep providing coverage, others are almost certain to announce similar cost increases in the weeks ahead as they sort out the impact of the change.
Figuring out what it will mean for retirees will take longer, but analysts said as many as 2 million could lose the prescription drug coverage provided by their former employers, leaving them to enroll in Medicare’s program.
American industrial companies that are struggling to compete globally against companies with much lower labor costs are particularly likely to eventually drop retiree coverage, said Gene Imhoff, an accounting professor at the University of Michigan.
“Anything that they can use to justify pushing something away from the employees, pushing it back on the employees or the government, they’re going to do it,” Imhoff said. “I’m not sure you can really blame them for trying to do this.”
When Congress approved the Medicare prescription drug program in 2003, it included government incentives for employers to provide drug benefits to retirees so the public system wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Employers that provide prescription drug benefits for retirees can receive subsidies covering 28 percent of eligible costs; those subsidies totaled $3.7 billion in 2008.
Under the 2003 law, companies could deduct the entire amount they spent on the drug benefits from their taxable income — including the government subsidy, an average of $665 per retiree.
The health care law signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday prohibits companies from writing off the subsidies starting in 2011, meaning they will no longer be able to deduct them from their taxable income.