Late yesterday Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) announced that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had rescored his committee’s health care legislation and the new cost for the bill over ten years was a number that could be offset: $1 trillion.
Earlier this week, CBO scored the Finance Committee’s proposal as costing $1.6 trillion over 10 years. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) outlined some of the new savings to reporters yesterday, including reductions in future spending on Medicare and Medicaid in the form of hospital and doctor reimbursements as well as reducing federal premiums to purchase insurance for low-income workers.
The committee, however, is still struggling to determine how it will offset the $1 trillion legislation. Last night, members of the committee told reporters that they will look outside of the health care system to find revenue for the health care legislation. Senator Conrad told reporters that a possible revenue raiser could be adoption of President Obama’s budget proposal to reduce the tax deduction for charitable contributions for the highest tax bracket to 28 percent.
Previously, the proposal had drawn criticism from many members of Congress and the philanthropic community as further reducing donations in an economy where fundraiser has grown increasingly difficult. However, a major Congressional proposal to raise revenue by removing the tax exemption for employer-sponsored health care plans has continued to meet resistance from Finance committee members. The concern is that removing the deduction would be akin to a tax increase.
With the report from the Giving USA Foundation last week that charitable donations actually decreased nation-wide last year for the second time ever, is adjusting the charitable tax deduction rate a viable way to finance health care legislation?
Associations and organizations increase public advocacy on health care in preparation for next week’s Congressional district work period… New York Times article on President Obama balancing his proposals to balance the budget and pay for health care… White House Chief of Staff gives his definition of bipartisanship… Debate in the House over climate change legislation intensifies today in the face of a potential final vote.