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Federal Update: More on the 2013 Budget

by Published On: May 18, 2012
Capitol building

Federal budget for fiscal 2013 

We had a flurry of votes in the U.S. Senate the week of May 13 on the 2013 budget plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and on budget alternatives developed by President Obama and Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT).  

None of these measures passed the Senate.

The Senate leadership maintains that last year’s Budget Control Act established a budget plan for 2013. They argue that it makes real spending cuts in all areas of the federal budget.

So, the House and Senate continue to use different playbooks in developing spending bills for the fiscal year that begins October 1. Meanwhile, sequestration/automatic spending cuts to take effect January 1, 2013, are a continuing threat.

Before the election, there is virtually no chance that Congress will pass an alternative to the automatic spending cuts.

There has been speculation about whether the lame duck Congress could pass a budget measure that would avert sequestration. An added incentive is that the national debt limit will have to be raised again in late December/early January.

But, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has indicated some willingness to kick the can farther down the road at the end of this year by passing short-term bills to keep the government in operation into the spring of 2013.

A lot depends on the outcome of the election as to whether the White House and/or the Senate change hands. If partisan control shifts, each party may perceive an advantage to delaying work on budget issues until new party members come in in January, or conversely getting a spending bill done in December while the party still retains a majority.

Housing funding for 2013

We are urging Congress to pass a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spending bill with at least $600 million for Section 202 affordable housing for low-income elders, including $100 million for construction of new units.

This is a major push for us: 

The inability of the House and Senate to come together on a budget plan for 2013 will complicate the appropriations bill covering senior housing, since each house is working with a different amount of total federal spending for fiscal 2013.

We expect that there will be no agreement on a HUD appropriations bill before the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1. In all likelihood, we are looking at another resolution continuing spending at current levels, at least for the first few weeks of fiscal 2013 before the automatic spending cuts take effect.

But if there is an omnibus spending bill at the end of the year, it could be a vehicle for the funding we are seeking.

CMS Final Rule on Regulatory Changes

This is like opening a beautifully wrapped package and finding a pair of socks.

CMS issued the rule to carry out the President’s executive order to all federal agencies on improving regulations and regulatory review.

The rule revises terminology in some current regulations (people covered by Medicaid now will be “beneficiaries” not “recipients”) and modifies the unnecessarily punitive enrollment bar for providers and suppliers when they fail to respond timely to revalidation or other requests for information.

With all of the beneficial regulatory changes we would like to see CMS making, we were a little underwhelmed by the final rule. However, the executive order requires agencies “…to establish a plan for ongoing retrospective review of existing significant regulations to identify those rules that can be eliminated as obsolete, unnecessary, burdensome, or counterproductive or that can be modified to be more effective, efficient, flexible, and streamlined.” [emphasis added].

We will continue working with CMS to achieve a consistent and timely oversight system based on contemporary evidence and best practices.


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