NOVEMBER 16, 2011
A controversial Medicare and Medicaid Innovation center created by Obamacare will give “community-based organizations” and other qualified groups $1 billion to devise “compelling new ideas” to deliver better services to those “with the highest health care needs.”
The allocation is the perfect complement to the tens of millions of dollars already doled out by another brilliant Obamacare agency—Office of Minority Health—to reduce health disparities between that “underserved” population and whites in the U.S. Under that initiative the administration has dedicated north of $100 million in the last year to “empower” poor, minority communities with the resources to make residents healthier.
Announced this week, the innovation grants will go to those who promise to implement “compelling new ideas to deliver better health, improved care and lower costs” to recipients of government-funded programs for the elderly and poor. Community organizations, healthcare providers and local governments will each get between $1 million and $30 million to get the job done, according to the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS), which distributes the cash.
The allocation comes days after a group Senate Finance Committee members called for an investigation of Obama’s year-old Medicare and Medicaid innovation center, which debuted last year with a $10 billion budget under the president’s healthcare law. The agency’s mission is to test new ideas that could improve healthcare quality while also cutting costs. In the end, it will improve the healthcare system for the entire nation, the administration asserts.
But some lawmakers are skeptical and have called for a congressional investigation to determine the innovation center’s fiscal impact on the nation’s healthcare entitlement programs and what, if anything, it has accomplished so far. In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius three senators express their concern that, “at a time of significant uncertainty for the fiscal health of the U.S. government,” funds are being expended by the innovation center with “little to no actual value provided.”
Following this week’s billion-dollar grant announcement one of the senators, Utah’s Orrin Hatch, blasted the agency for trying to save money by spending more money at a time when the nation is broke. “Another billion dollar government program won’t fix the President’s broken promise that his $2.6 trillion health law would lower health care costs,” Hatch said in a statement posted on his U.S. Senate website.
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