Last week, Members of Congress hit their first statutory deadline related to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (or Supercommittee) process. The Supercommittee was created by the Budget Control Act, passed earlier this year, and tasked to identify $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, or $1.2 trillion at a minimum, by the end of this year. Last Friday, October 14th, was the final day for committees in the House and Senate to submit formal recommendations to the Supercommittee on savings that might be found within the programs within their jurisdiction. For health centers, the important committees to watch are Energy and Commerce in the House, and Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) in the Senate, which have control over both the Health Centers program and the Medicaid program, so their recommendations directly impact issues health centers care about.
Although committees weren’t formally required to make recommendations, many committees did put forward some guidance for the Supercommittee to consider as they work toward identifying at least $1.2 trillion in savings. A number of the key committees of jurisdiction are, in fact, represented on the Supercommittee – Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT), and House Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) are among the 12 Supercommittee members. The majority parties of each of these committees did not issue formal recommendations, however, we did hear from the minority in both cases. Letters from the House Energy and Commerce Democrats and Senate Finance Republicans to the Supercommittee included issues pertaining to Medicaid and Medicare. Additionally, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s letter to the Supercommittee, along with other House committees of jurisdiction’s letters, can all be found here.
With this first deadline behind us, negotiations among the Supercommittee members continue apace. The next firm deadline is November 23rd, when the Supercommittee must vote on and a set of recommendations that identifies at least $1.2 trillion in savings in order to avoid automatic across the board cuts. In the upcoming month we expect to see a flurry of activity – the release of proposals and budget scores as well as political and policy deal-making, so stay tuned to the blog for important updates on the Supercommittee process.