February’s Obamacare enrollment numbers dipped a bit from January, but the real story is the shortfall from the administration’s original projected goals. After February the administration hoped to have 5.7 million signed up through healthcare.gov and state exchanges.
CMS delivered big news yesterday with their announcement to abandon a controversial Medicare Part D rulemaking. In a letter to Congress CMS' Tavenner said, “Given the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input, we do not plan to finalize these proposals at this time.” Douglas Holtz-Eakin testified last month on the proposal that would cut providers and how it would “fundamentally damage the program and threaten its success.” CMS did the right thing by soliciting advice from experts and stakeholders and backing off of this rule. It's possible it could return in the future, however.
The president’s record on medical innovation incentives leads much to be desired. The medical device tax, IPAB, and the MLR are examples of policies that straight jacket innovation.
Now, his budget proposes to change the laws for “biosimilars,” generic versions of biologics, to reduce the number of years of exclusive market rights from 12 to 7 years. In addition, it would alter the Medicare rules to reduce the reimbursements for biosimilars. The proposals would save over $10 billion over the next decade.
All conversations in Washington today will be driven by the February jobs numbers. We will wait to see if the cold freezes growth when the numbers are released later this morning. January’s numbers saw 113,000 jobs added and a slight change in unemployment. Douglas Holtz-Eakin has his preview below. Here is a quick recap of key economic indicators since last month’s report:
If you like your plan you can keep it, well at least until 2017. That is the announcement from the Obama administration late Wednesday after a November promise that Americans would be allowed to remain on health care plans set for elimination because they do not meet the Obamacare coverage standards.
After a snow delay, the president’s budget was released yesterday. AAF’s team of policy experts quickly went to work reading the document and breaking down what it means. In reviewing the spending and taxes in the president’s budget, AAF finds:Tax revenue increase of $1.8 trillion; Spending increase of $2.5 trillion over the budget window, or a 71% increase; Record deficits requiring additional borrowing of over $1 trillion in the next two years; and Higher interest payments on the debt, totally $812 billion in 2024.
The EPA released their final version of its Tier 3 fuel standards that would require further emission control measures in vehicles and reductions in the level of sulfur in gasoline. Though paired down from the proposed rule AAF reviewed a year ago, the final version is still a significant regulation with $14.5 billion in total costs and 158,617 paperwork hours. The states with vehicle manufacturing and refineries will be hit the hardest with this new rule. Read all the details by AAF’s Dan Goldbeck here.
Sam Batkins, AAF’s Director of Regulatory Policy, released his weekly tally of the total impact of President Obama’s regulatory burdens since January 1, 2014. Since New Years, the federal government, including proposed rules, has published $8.4 billion in compliance costs and has imposed more than 13.3 million paperwork burden hours.
Why is the president, and soon-to-be Congress, in violation of federal law? Well as AAF’s Gordon Gray explains, “Section 300 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 provides a tidy schedule for lawmakers to go about establishing a budget for the federal government of the world’s largest economy. A close inspection of the key milestones that mark “budget season” reveal that they are rarely heeded.” In fact, Obama has only hit the deadline once in his tenure as president.
“Simpler, fairer, and flatter” is the battlecry for Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dave Camp in his final term. Yesterday afternoon Rep. Camp made his draft public which will include “changes to tax breaks for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes, Camp also says that around 95 percent of households would be able to use the standard deduction and avoid itemizing – down from around seven in 10 right now…” and “lowering the corporate rate to 25 percent, by chopping off 2 percent a year over five years,” among other features. Catch our expert Gordon Gray’s thoughts on Bloomberg TV here.