In a good example of history repeating itself, Congress for the second year in a row is going down to the wire on a mid-summer deadline to replenish the Highway Trust Fund before it runs out of money.
If lawmakers can’t find a solution by July 31, states will not receive promised funding from the federal government to help pay for transportation projects, bringing many such projects around the country to an abrupt halt.
Part of the long to-do list for the lame duck Congress is deciding whether to authorize new spending for operations against ISIS while setting broader defense priorities in a constrained fiscal environment.
The administration recently requested an additional $5.6 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for Fiscal Year 2015 to fight ISIS.
In 2011, Medicare spent $170 billion, or 28 percent of its total expenditures, on services for beneficiaries in their last six months of life. But a new report says many of these patients are not receiving the care they want and are undergoing costly and unnecessary tests, procedures, and hospital visits.
In a move that many saw as inevitable unless lawmakers acted, the Department of Transportation announced recently that the dwindling Highway Trust Fund would have to begin delaying payments to state governments in August.
The growth in health care spending has slowed in recent years but could speed up again as the economy strengthens and the population ages. Even with slower growth rates, however, federal and state governments need to pursue reforms and innovations to keep public health programs sustainable.
House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.) remarked recently that there are some similar ideas in the tax reform proposals that he and President Obama have suggested. Normally overlap between Republican and Democrat ideas is a welcome occurrence.
As more people obtain health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges and its expansion of Medicaid -- the federal-state program for low-income individuals -- policymakers should focus on ensuring that the health care system can meet the increased demand for services.