Despite objections from Senate leaders and reluctance by the White House, the House Budget Committee said it would use a legislative maneuver to help move along a budget that could change how healthcare is delivered and paid for in the U.S.
The Houses plan would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund that would be used as an open coffer to fund healthcare-reform initiatives, but only if budgetary offsets are found. A Senate budget essentially does the same; but only the Houses healthcare portion of the budget is shielded under a process known as reconciliation, which allows sometimes-controversial provisions to pass with limited debate and by a simple majority of votes.
In a conference call with reporters, White House budget chief Peter Orszag lauded both versions of the budget, saying that they closely mirror President Barack Obamas domestic priorities. He said both measures, which are being debated today on Capitol Hill, would cut the deficit in half in a five-year window. Orszag said that the White Houses budgetary blueprint also called for a deficit-neutral reserve fund. Still, the Obama budget named some specific measures on how to fund a $634 billion down payment on health reform. The congressional budgets do not.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, spoke at a policy seminar this morning and expressed concern about using reconciliation in the House budget resolution. That would be a mistake, he said. Healthcare is one key issue that needs to be addressed in a bipartisan way.