With the release of President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget, the wrangling on Capitol Hill can begin in earnest.
Both the House and the Senate have approved their own versions of next year’s federal budget, but the president’s proposal will begin those discussions anew. Most of his health care proposals don’t break new ground. For instance, the president is proposing policies estimated to save $370 billion from the Medicare program over the next decade. Those policies, which have been proposed before, include cutting payments to drug companies and long-term care facilities, and some increases in cost sharing by beneficiaries.
But there’s also some new spending on health priorities. For instance, the budget proposal calls for spending $100 million to fund a wide-ranging initiative to map the human brain. It also includes a $130 million investment in mental health. That proposal calls for adding 5,000 mental health professionals to the behavioral health workforce and training teachers to recognize the early signs of mental illness.
The president may have a tougher time getting the $1.5 billion he’s seeking to help jumpstart the health insurance exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act. The budget proposal includes funding to support operations and outreach related to the federally operated exchanges. The money would also go to assist states who are running their own exchanges. The exchanges are set to open for enrollment on Oct. 1 and coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2014.
Check out this week’s Policy & Practice podcast for all the budget news, plus more on the sequester and the pending nomination of Marilyn Tavenner to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
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