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Important Congressional Work

Brian Blase
President at Paragon Health Institute

Brian Blase, Ph.D., is the President of Paragon Health Institute. Brian was Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the White House’s National Economic Council (NEC) from 2017-2019, where he coordinated the development and execution of numerous health policies and advised the President, NEC director, and senior officials. After leaving the White House, Brian founded Blase Policy Strategies and serves as its CEO.

Good morning,

Just a quick note on two recent Paragon analyses. First, Newsweek ran a piece I coauthored with Paul Winfree, “To Deal with Debt, Congress Must Slow Federal Health Spending.” Second, National Review published a piece from Paragon’s senior policy analyst Drew Keyes on the necessity of ending the COVID emergencies now.
The Urgency of Reducing Federal Health Spending
Last month, Paragon released an important analysis from Paul Winfree, a former top White House budget official, detailing the danger that unsustainable federal health spending poses to U.S. fiscal policy and American prosperity. In the Newsweek piece, we explain the problem:

While COVID-related spending has pushed our debt-to-GDP ratio to its highest level since World War II, the growth of federal entitlement programs is a far greater threat to our country’s economic future. The Medicare and Social Security Trustees—a group consisting mostly of senior Biden administration officials—report that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2028 and Social Security’s trust fund will be insolvent in a decade. Unfunded liabilities for these two programs are projected to exceed $71 trillion over 75 years. And no program has grown as much as Medicaid, which used to be for the poor and vulnerable until Obamacare and COVID-era policies expanded enrollment to roughly one in four Americans.

We conclude by laying out the stakes of delaying action and making a recommendation:

It’s long past time for policymakers to get serious about Washington’s dreadful fiscal course. Time has basically run out, and Congress must enact reforms to federal health programs within the next few years. Acting now will avoid drastic program cuts, massive tax increases, and inflation that would come within the next two decades otherwise. The sooner Congress acts, the more time for a phase-in of reforms, to reduce the growth in spending relative to baseline and to allow time for families and the market to adjust to a new level of government spending.

Both sides must put away talking points on privatization and death panels and get back to serious legislating. Another fiscal commission, similar to Simpson-Bowles, would be a good start and a sign that Congress is acknowledging the severity of the problem.

The Importance of Ending the COVID Emergencies
In an NRO piece from Tuesday, Drew Keyes refutes many of the Biden administration claims of problems that would come from ending the COVID public health and national emergencies immediately. This week, the House of Representatives voted to end the emergencies and permit unvaccinated health care workers to get back to work. A few highlights from the piece:

Although the threat posed by the pandemic has really been over for at least a year, the Biden administration has maintained the emergency status to serve its own political interests. The House’s planned action may have caused the Biden administration to acknowledge reality with a statement yesterday that it would end the national and public-health emergencies on May 11. While separate, the two emergency declarations afford the federal government increased powers and spending capabilities. By making this announcement, the Biden administration is explicitly acknowledging what many observers have known for some time: The public has resumed normal life. Covid-19 consistently ranks near bottom of Americans’ list of concerns. 

Have a great rest of the week.

All the best,
Brian Blase
Paragon Health Institute

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