Health Care Overhaul Rolls on despite Budget Havoc

By Alonso-Zaldivar, Ricardo | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 2, 2013 | Go to article overview

Health Care Overhaul Rolls on despite Budget Havoc


Alonso-Zaldivar, Ricardo, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


WASHINGTON Airline schedules, food inspections, IRS taxpayer assistance and deployments of Navy ships could all be hampered by the governments automatic spending cuts.

But President Barack Obamas health care law a program Republicans have spent the last three years trying to kill will roll out on time, the administration says.

Only a small fraction of the $1.6 trillion the Affordable Care Act spends to cover the uninsured over the next decade is subject to the so-called sequester. The cuts were to go into effect Friday, after Obama and congressional Republicans failed to agree on a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to curtail government red ink.

Consumers in every state will have access (to coverage) when open enrollment begins on Oct. 1, 2013, Health and Human Services spokeswoman Erin Shields Britt told The Associated Press, when asked whether the budget cuts will delay the implementation of Obamas signature domestic program.

Dubbed Obamacare by its foes, the Affordable Care Act ACA for short has demonstrated staying power. It survived a Supreme Court challenge, last years presidential election and more than 30 votes in the GOP-led House to eliminate, defund or otherwise scale it back.

Now it seems the program will lurch through a budget crisis that could disrupt other government functions and emerge largely unscathed.

Health and Human Services, the government department putting the law into place, says it doesnt have final estimates of the effect the budget cuts will have on its employees. But the department says it is working to prepare for the reductions in a way that minimizes the impact on its mission. HHS already oversees Medicare and Medicaid, which provide coverage to about 100 million people. The new law will add 30 million people to the coverage rolls.

Its galling that Obamacare is not being touched, said Rep. …

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