But Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) — who have led the effort to cut spending in the stimulus bill by about $100 billion — aren’t buying it. In an effort to trim “the fat“, they’re slashing a litany of health care provisions. The Kaiser Family Foundation has the latest:
- Reduce funds for federal subsidies for health insurance under COBRA by $5 billion and funds to help hospitals adopt electronic health records by $2 billion.
- Federal subsidies for COBRA would cover 50% of health insurance premiums for 12 months, compared with 65% of premiums for nine months as called for in the original Senate legislation.
- Reduce funds for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for pandemic flu preparedness by about $870 million.
- Reduce funds for health care prevention and wellness programs by $2 billion.
- Eliminate funds for comparative-effectiveness research and school nutrition programs.
Today, President Obama explained the logic of investing in the health care sector:
If we’re going to be spending money anyway creating jobs, why not create jobs getting these medical records set up in a way that drives down health care costs over the long term?
So my critics have said that’s social policy. That’s not stimulus. Look, doesn’t it make sense if we’re going to spend this money to solve big problems that have been around for decades? That’s what we’re trying to do.