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Credible research and impartial information are critical to fostering fiscal responsibility. The Institute to Reduce Spending engages in and promotes rigorous academic research and scholarship on the subject of federal spending and budgeting. We seek to create a national, nonpartisan dialogue regarding spending reform by presenting information in a publicly accessible manner.

A Chance to Trim the Fat


17 years ago, President Clinton was leaving office. His replacement, President George W. Bush, was moving into the White House. While this transition was happening, a fear was looming on the horizon: what would happen with the “Y2K bug”? People worried that computer calendars would not be able to deal with the turn of the century, and systems would crash. This problem seems silly now, but what’s even sillier is that until last week, there were 7 different federal paperwork requirements related to this bug.


This story typifies the problem with outdated government rules and why OMB director Mick Mulvaney has made it a goal to clean them up. In total, the White House eliminated more than 50 requirements that were either outdated or unnecessary, with Mulvaney saying, “We’re looking for stuff everyone agrees is a complete waste of time.” These regulations are either outdated like the Y2K bug, or burdensome. Ending one, for instance, will save the Department of Defense 1200 man-hours every year—ensuring that they no longer have to file a separate report every time a small-business vendor is paid.


Mulvaney says this move is not intended to shrink the federal workforce, but instead give agencies the ability to use their time more productively and not focus on meaningless regulatory tasks.


Eliminating the 59 guidance and policy documents is part of OMB’s phase 1 of increasing government efficiency. Phase 2 comes at the end of this month when the heads of agencies will produce a list of reports and requirements that they deem unwarranted or outdated.


In September, agencies will submit their budget requests for fiscal year 2019. With these requests, they will also present a reorganization plan that makes the most sense for the agencies.


OMB Director Mulvaney, a longtime budget hawk, has been pushing for departments and agencies to determine themselves ways to save the government money and increase efficiency. Though these reforms alone cannot drastically change the overall fiscal health of the nation, it’s an encouraging sign to see the administration sticking to its promise of cutting waste, fraud, and abuse.

What’s Next for Healthcare?

On May 4th, the House passed the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), an attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. This Republican win came after the bill was pulled from a vote in late March because it did not have enough votes to pass. After Congressional leaders negotiated a few provisions that made conservatives more comfortable with it, the bill narrowly passed by a four-vote margin.


Now, the Senate has been working through the kinks, trying to make improvements that will help it pass in their chamber. While news focused on the Comey hearing last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked Senate Rule 14, allowing the bill to go straight to a floor vote, skipping committee hearings that Democrats planned to use to block the bill. Using this rule gives the Senate more time to pass the law before they leave town for the month of August.


Another hurdle was avoided when Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) posted a press release stating that the text of the healthcare bill complies with the Senate reconciliation process and the strict rules that go along with it. There was concern that some of the language needed to be altered before the parliamentarian could approve it, but that obstacle was avoided.


The Senate will continue working on the final details of the bill before bringing it to the floor to try and get the 51 votes needed for it to pass. Since it will likely be sent back to the House for approval, they must walk a fine line of crafting legislation that passes their chamber, while assuring it is not dead on arrival in the House.


Most Americans want to reform healthcare, and the status quo is not working, as more and more insurance companies pull out of the marketplace and costs rise. It remains to be seen whether the final version of the AHCA will be the type of small-government, cost-saving policy needed, but fiscal conservatives should watch closely as further details develop.

Nebraska Loses Another Health Insurance Provider


Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report that shows premiums have doubled for individual health insurance plans since 2013. The HHS National Spokesperson stated that Americans were paying a whopping $3,000 more per year on health insurance.


For Nebraskans, the healthcare woes don’t stop there. 100,000 people in the Cornhusker State will be left with only one individual health insurance option next year—leaving just Medica Health. Both Aetna Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska announced this year that they will not participate in the insurance market in 2018. Blue Cross will be dropping the last two insurance plans that meet the ACA’s standards because to stay in the Nebraska market, they would be forced to raise all prices to make up for the losses


To make matters even worse, Medica Health has yet to make a final decision on whether they will even stay. If they were to leave the state market, there would be no insurance providers, forcing residents to pay federal penalties for not buying insurance plans that do not exist anymore, although Cynthia Cox, the deputy director of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said that Nebraska will be among only a few states with only one individual ACA insurer, and it is unlikely for Medica to pull out of Nebraska entirely.


However, with so many companies dropping out of the insurance market because they are not making a profit, the brokenness of the status quo and need for reform. Congress should work to find ways that make health insurance more affordable and higher quality for all Americans.

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