Rural Hospitals:Headed Over the Fiscal Cliff?

The Next Step is a Doozy!

Given the U.S.’ $10 trillion debt, future federal budget austerity and the (2010) enactment (and recent Supreme Court decision about the tax provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),) talk in Washington and around the country continues to focus on how to implement policy measures that avoid sending the U.S. over a “fiscal cliff“.

Clearly, in order to correct our current fiscal path, major policy changes will be needed to beneficial programs important to many Americans, including those living in rural areas. Among the top concerns are continuing and improving healthcare in rural areas where hospitals rely heavily on Medicare reimbursement rates. Medicare rates that cannot continue at current levels.

Congress Returns from Thanksgiving with a Full Plate

Congress returns from Thansgiving with Full PlateWith only 12% of the U.S. approving of their job performance1, Congress returns this week to try and salvage their do-nothing reputation by completing multiple unresolved issues before the end of the year. From unemployment to payroll deductions, Congress is about to make some decisions that will affect almost every American.

How will these issues impact your business?…

  1. Real Clear Politics 11/17/11 []

FY 2013 Federal Budget Will Be Leaner

Leaner 2013 budgets Federal departments and agencies are busy working on their annual budget submissions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for FY 2013 that begins October 1, 2012. This is part of the ongoing federal budget process that culminates in the release of the Administration’s budget each year in early February.  By statute, the President is required to submit an annual budget to Congress.  Even by Washington standards there’s irony to this event because typically the President’s budget (no matter the political party) is dead on arrival on Capitol Hill as each chamber of the U.S. Congress adopts their own budget resolution each year. But Congress has failed for multiple years under majorities in both political parties to produce a budget resolution in each chamber for the federal fiscal year.…

Super Committee May Not Produce Super Results

Super CommitteeSince its creation, the Washington, DC lobbying corp has given the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee) only about a 25% chance of success at reaching a consensus on a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction package. Unfortunately given the past two weeks of vacillation and the November 23 deadline fast approaching, it turns out they may be right.

Amidst dire warnings about the impacts of deep cuts in military spending from Pentagon officials and leading economists warnings of dire consequences of lost U.S. confidence in global markets, congressional members of the Super Committee could not reach consensus on multiple proposals which surfaced during the week of November 7-11.  In fact, the plan receiving the most consensus among members only includes cuts of about $400 – $600 billion.…

Super Committee Holds Another Public Hearing

On Wednesday, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSCDR) held their third public hearing to focus on federal government discretionary spending.  The hearing comes just one day after what is being reported as heated discussions took place over entitlement and tax reforms in a closed meeting of the JSCDR.

CBO (Congressional Budget Office) Director Doug Elmendorf testified before the JSCDR on discretionary spending which totaled $1.277 trillion in 2011, or 40 percent of all federal outlays.…

Super Committee on Deficit Reduction Receives Proposals

Super CommitteeFriday, October 14 was the deadline for recommendations to the 12-member Super Committee on Deficit Reduction on how to cut federal spending by up to $1.2 trillion.  With the Nov. 23 deadline for the super committee to unveil a proposal fast approaching, no one is certain how the 12-member Committee will go through the mounds of proposals, emails and data they have, and are continuing to receive. National Journal is reporting that “few if any of the suggestions (received) are likely to be innovative or ground-breaking in terms of policy.”

Yesterday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) met with US House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MM) sent their proposal that cuts $23 billion from the agriculture budget baseline.  This may allow the agriculture committees to complete the next Farm Bill by the end of this session.…

Solyndra: Lessons on Incentives & Private Capital

Incentives in investmentsAt the stroke of midnight on Friday September 30, the Department of Energy program that funded the now-defunct solar company, Solyndra, ceased to exist.

But, before the program ended, government officials approved ANOTHER $4.7 billion in loan guarantees to four more clean energy projects: SunPower Corporation, Project Amp, Antelope Valley Solar and Desert Sunlight.  Because the U.S. taxpayers are solely at risk in financially backing their efforts, let’s hope these companies fair better than Solyndra.  But let’s also learn an important lesson going forward about venture capital and the roles of government and the private sector.…

Rural Development & The President’s Jobs Plan

Rural Development & rural healthcareDuring the President’s speech to a Joint Session of Congress on September 8, he said, “Every proposal I’ve laid out tonight is the kind that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past.”  Typically, the opposition party would be totally dismissive of such remarks, but with the U.S. economy on the ropes and a U.S. electorate demanding action to remedy it, that’s why many congressional Republicans cannot totally dismiss the remarks of the President.

Reducing Regulatory Burdens & Stimulating Jobs

Reducing Regulatory BurdenThe U.S. House continues to focus on numerous federal regulations deemed as “overburdensome” and that if ended, may stimulate the economy and create jobs. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has sent a letter to President Obama requesting a list of all proposed regulations that are estimated to have an economic impact exceeding $1 billion.…

Transportation Reauthorization

Transportation ReauthorizationThe U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee led by Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) wasted little time after Congress’ return from the August recess to adopt a short-term extension of the surface-transportation legislation, Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA; P.L. 109-59). SAFETEA-LU is set to expire at the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30, 2011. The adopted extension funds highway programs at current levels through January 31, 2012.

The republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives responded by adopting  a six- month funding extension (at current levels) for surface-transportation and a four month funding extension for the Federal Aviation Administration.

With funding deadlines fast approaching and to prevent funding lapses, the U.S. Senate will adopt the same extension provisions later this week. …

2012 Appropriations Bills & Food Safety Fight May Be Brewing

Agriculture Appropriations BillOn Wednesday of this week the U.S. House is scheduled to take up H.J. Resolution 79, making continuing appropriations for seven weeks into the new (FY 2012) fiscal year.  H.J. Res 79 funds most federal programs through November 18 at the FY 2011 level, minus a 1.4 percent reduction. This level of appropriations was established in the recently enacted debt limitation law (P.L. 112-25) establishing a $1.043 trillion spending cap.

The U.S. Senate must quickly take up the bill as Congress is scheduled to recess the last week of September.  With the new federal fiscal year beginning in 11 days (on Oct 1), none of the 12 appropriations bills have been enacted by Congress.

According to the 112th congressional calendar, 26 legislative days remain until the targeted adjournment on December 8. With only a few legislative days remaining already the House and Senate are headed for heated arguments in the usually congenial agriculture appropriations subcommittee over the new food safety law enacted at the beginning of this year.

Earlier this month the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee adopted their version of an FY 2012 spending bill for the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The U.S. House adopted their version of the bill on June 16  by a vote of 217-203. The provisions showcase a difference of opinion in implementing the new food safety law.

Specifically, the FY 2012 FDA budget request was $4.36 billion for all programs, of which just over $1.2 billion was allocated for food safety and animal drugs and feed. FDA requested an additional $324 million for the food safety initiative.  Previously, the Congressional Budget Office estimated an additional $1.4 billion would be needed over the next five years to implement the Food Safety Modernization law (FSMA).

Fiscal Year 2012 begins in less than 3 weeks!

The new FY 2012 begins on October 1. Yes, that is less than 3 weeks away.

Currently, the U.S. House of Representatives has adopted half of the 12 annual appropriations bill including Homeland Security, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Defense, Energy & Water and Legislative Branch.  Three Committees have voted to send their bills to the House floor for debate and final passage including Commerce, Justice and Science, Financial Services, Interior & Environment.  Three Committees have yet to adopt their bills; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, State and Foreign Operations and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.…

Rural Healthcare: More jobs, better healthcare, $60 billion into ailing economy

Rural Healthcare60 million Americans are living in rural communities throughout the U.S. and according to Cornell University, since the 1960s, the rural population has aged more rapidly than its urban counterpart. Hospitals serving rural populations have also been aging. In fact, rural hospitals average over 50 years of age and these facilities have already out-lived their lifespan and are unable to meet the demands of modern medicine and technology.

Time to Change the Tax Code to Encourage Investment in Antiquated Rural Hospitals

Rural healthcare organizations are challenged to meet the minimum financial requirements of Local, State, or Federal assistance programs to replace aging facilities due to current debt levels and capital needed to fund their development.  Additionally, programs providing for the start-up and operational funding needed to stabilize a new facility, once built, are limited by the the already over stressed, local taxing districts. It is estimated that over 14% of rural hospitals throughout the U.S. have been lost over the past ten years and at the current pace that figure will be progressively exceeded. Simply waiting for better economic times is not an option.…

Obama: Revamping the Farm Subsidy System

In a CBS town hall meeting on May 12th, President Obama discusses how difficult it is for congressional leaders from rural districts that have historically benefited from existing farm subsidies to change policies to address 21st Century challenges in agriculture. More than ever, if your organization needs its voice heard in Washington and assistance in protecting…

Are Your Programs on the Chopping Block in the Next Farm Bill?

In mid-April the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a budget resolution (235-193) for fiscal year 2012.  It estimated that the 2012 Budget proposes $178 billion in agriculture program cuts over the next 10 years. While the Budget Committee made it known that the Agriculture Committee will choose what programs to cut, they did suggest:

  • $127 billion in cuts to the food stamp programs,
  • about $30 billion in cuts to commodity programs,
  • about $20 billion in cuts to other programs, and
  • specifically mention conservation programs.

In the U.S. Senate, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) has unveiled a tentative draft that would cut the federal deficit by about $4 trillion over a decade.

Conrad’s draft proposal raises taxes by about $2 trillion and cuts spending by $1.5 trillion. Additional savings of about $600 billion would come from reduced interest payments. Savings of about $900 billion are achieved from defense programs and $300 billion in savings are proposed from non-security spending over a decade. It would also secure about $300 billion in entitlement savings over the decade.