You Can’t Be In Two Places At Once

It may seem like an obvious physical limitation that no one person can be in two places at once. However, it seems that legislators at both the state and federal level are having a hard time grasping that this concept also applies to money.

As budgets are being released we are seeing the same old trickery again and again, especially in relation to health care dollars. Those supporting health reform and trying to balance budgets are returning to the unfeasible methods of double counting to make ends meet and show savings.

In one of her most recent statements about health reform, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius claimed that the health care law will reduce the deficit and prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund. Conversely, President Obama and his chief actuary admitted that the funds cannot be used to do both things at once.

In North Carolina, budget subcommittees released their spending plans last week doing much of the same. For example, the subcommittee on Health and Human Services plan requires $4.4 billion in appropriations, a reduction of $335 million for Medicaid. Interestingly enough, because of moving monies around from the stimulus budget, the “cut” actually results in a $450 million increase in state appropriations.

If legislators handled their personal bank accounts the way they do the state and federal budgets I can’t imagine they would have access to their money for long…

Nicole Fisher

Nicole Fisher is a current PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina in the Health Policy and Management Department. She also currently writes health care policy for t...

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