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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

House Speaker, Budget Chair Pitch FY17 Budget Resolution

March 10, 2016 | Federal Budget | Medicaid | Medicare | Comments
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This week, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price (R-OK) introduced a budget resolution setting top-line funding numbers for fiscal year 2017. Despite pushback from fiscal hawks in Congress, who wished to see an additional $30 billion in cuts, the resolution’s $1.07 trillion in discretionary spending aligns with the amount agreed upon between the White House and congressional Republicans in the bipartisan Balanced Budget Act of 2015. However, Ryan and Price have also promised a separate initiative to cut $30 billion in mandatory spending from entitlement programs over two years.

Last year’s Balanced Budget Act of 2015 resolved a year-end budget standoff by setting forth top-line budget numbers for 2016 and 2017. The law provided a modicum of relief from the harsh sequestration cuts that would otherwise have drastically lowered federal discretionary spending: it raised spending levels evenly between defense and non-defense funding, with a total of $30 million allocated for FY2017. These increases were fully paid for in the Balanced Budget Act.

Nonetheless, fiscal hawks in Congress continued to call for cuts to restore federal spending to sequestration levels by slashing an additional $30 billion from the budget. This week’s agreement represents a compromise between legislators who wish to see a budget resolution move forward and those who wish to further cut federal spending.

For organizations who rely on Medicaid and Medicare funding to provide care to individuals with mental illness and addictions, the proposal to cut $30 billion from entitlements must be carefully monitored for changes that would impact these programs. No details on how these cuts would be achieved are yet available. Significant changes to the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs could be disastrous to the millions of American who rely on the programs each and every day. Previously, proposals to reform Medicaid have included converting the program to a block grant or imposing a per-capita cap on federal spending for Medicaid enrollees. The National Council strongly opposes both proposals because of the deleterious effect on Medicaid providers and patients.

To date, there has been no further movement on the proposed budget resolution. The National Council continues to closely monitor all appropriations activities and will keep readers updated on potential threats to Medicaid and Medicare as part of this process.