Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Omnibus Includes More Than $1 Billion in Obamacare Funding

The recently released omnibus appropriations measure – which would spend more than $1.25 trillion in this fiscal year – includes $1,009,677,000 in funding to implement Democrats’ unpopular health care law.  That funding includes:

  • An increase of more than $80.7 million in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Departmental Management account, to enforce the new insurance mandates and regulations created in the law.  This $80 million “plus-up” is also significantly higher than the $44.9 million increase proposed in Democrats’ year-long CR.  (Provision found on page 1015 of the legislation.)
  • An increase of over $175.9 million in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Program Management account, to implement the massive Medicaid expansion and cuts to Medicare Advantage.  (Provision found on pages 1000-1001 of the legislation.)
  • Spending of $750 million from the Prevention and Public Health “slush fund” created in the law.  Among the programs receiving “slush fund” dollars are the new community transformation grant programs, which “could provide billions of dollars for walking paths, streetlights, jungle gyms, and even farmers’ markets,” provisions that have caused controversy.  (Provisions found on pages 983, 988-89, 998, and 999 of the legislation.)
  • Funding of $3 million for the National Health Care Workforce Commission created in the law, just one of the 159 boards, bureaucracies, and programs created by the majority’s government takeover of health care.  (Provision found on page 1077 of the legislation.)

On a related note, page 33 of the Labor-HHS earmark list released by the Appropriations Committee includes a $300,000 earmark for the Center for Asbestos Related Disease, based in Libby, Montana.  You will recall that health coverage for miners in Libby, Montana was one of the earmarks included in the “cash for cloture” agreement on health care last December – but that didn’t stop appropriators from including yet another earmark for Libby, Montana in the omnibus measure.

At a time when the federal government is running trillion-dollar deficits, many may view an omnibus approach to legislation as precisely the wrong way to control skyrocketing federal spending.  Moreover, many may also view the over $1 billion in new funding for the unpopular health care overhaul as a further example of misplaced priorities.