A New Plan to Expand Health Care Coverage — and Contain Costs

A New Plan to Expand Health Care Coverage — and Contain Costs

medical stethoscope
iStockphoto/vetkit
By Yuval Rosenberg

Economists at the Urban Institute this week released a new health-care policy proposal. The plan would leave Medicare and employer-based health care coverage in place but add a new, Medicare-style “Healthy America” marketplace with public and private insurer options for everyone else. The Urban economists say their plan “is less ambitious than a single-payer system (i.e., Medicare for All), but it would get close to universal coverage with much lower increases in federal spending and less disruption for people currently enrolled in employer coverage or Medicare.”

As for the costs, the authors estimate it would be about $98 billion in the first year.

The Washington Post Editorial Board says the proposal serves as a reminder that “there are options that are neither as cruel as the GOP’s miserly repeal-and-replace nor as disruptive as the more sweeping left-wing proposals” for single-payer plans. “In other words, they are compassionate and realistic.” Read the Urban Institute’s plan here.

A Surprise Government Spending Slowdown

Wikimedia / Andy Dunaway
By Michael Rainey

Economists expected federal spending to boost growth in 2019, but some of the fiscal stimulus provided by the 2018 budget deal has failed to show up this year, according to Kate Davidson of The Wall Street Journal.

Defense spending has come in as expected, but nondefense spending has lagged, and it’s unlikely to catch up to projections even if it accelerates in the coming months. Lower spending on disaster relief, the government shutdown earlier this year, and federal agencies spending less than they have been given by Congress all appear to be playing a role in the spending slowdown, Davidson said.

Number of the Day: $203,500

Mulvaney listens as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with members of the Republican Study Committee at the White House in Washington
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The Wall Street Journal’s Catherine Lucey reports that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is making a bit more than his predecessors: “The latest annual report to Congress on White House personnel shows that President Trump’s third chief of staff is getting an annual salary of $203,500, compared with Reince Priebus and John Kelly, each of whom earned $179,700.” The difference is the result of Mulvaney still technically occupying the role of director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, where his salary level is set by law.

The White House told the Journal that if Mulvaney is made permanent chief of staff his salary would be adjusted to the current salary for an assistant to the president, $183,000.

The Census Affects Nearly $1 Trillion in Spending

Alex Rader/The Fiscal Times
By Michael Rainey

The 2020 census faces possible delay as the Supreme Court sorts out the legality of a controversial citizenship question added by the Trump administration. Tracy Gordon of the Tax Policy Center notes that in addition to the basic issue of political representation, the decennial population count affects roughly $900 billion in federal spending, ranging from Medicaid assistance funds to Section 8 housing vouchers. Here’s a look at the top 10 programs affected by the census:

Chart of the Day: Offshore Profits Continue to Rise

FILE PHOTO: An illustration picture shows euro and US dollar banknotes and coins, April 8, 2017.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo
Kai Pfaffenbach
By Michael Rainey

Brad Setser, a former U.S. Treasury economist now with the Council on Foreign Relations, added another detail to his assessment of the foreign provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: “A bit more evidence that Trump's tax reform didn't change incentives to offshore profits: the enormous profits that U.S. firms report in low tax jurisdictions continues to rise,” Setser wrote. “In fact, there was a bit of a jump up over the course of 2018.”

Deficit Hits $738.6 Billion in First 8 Months of Fiscal Year

A sign marks the U.S Treasury Department in Washington
Brian Snyder
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The U.S. budget deficit grew to $738.6 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal year – an increase of $206 billion, or 38.8%, over the deficit recorded during the same period a year earlier. Bloomberg’s Sarah McGregor notes that the big increase occurred despite a jump in tariff revenues, which have nearly doubled to $44.9 billion so far this fiscal year. But that increase, which contributed to an overall increase in revenues of 2.3%, was not enough to make up for the reduced revenues from the Republican tax cuts and a 9.3% increase in government spending.