A breath of fresh spring air

Today was a very good day in health care policy. The U.S. Senate cleared repeal of the much-hated expanded Form 1099 reporting requirement (passed in health reform). H.R. 4 will now go directly to the President for his expected signature just in time to keep businesses from very expensive and intrusive record keeping requirements.  NRF member Seth Shipley — an independent jewelry retailer from Maryland – testified on 1099 repeal in February.

Finally, a bipartisan reform of health reform … also, repeal of the first provision (hopefully, the first of very many provisions) from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA/ACA).

Earlier today, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his fiscal year 2012 budget plan, featuring $6 trillion of savings over 10 years and a major restructuring of budget entitlement programs. Health care – the beast that spawned the national deficit and debt – is targeted for $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years. Health care reform would be completely repealed, and the task of devising and passing job-friendly health reform would begin again with a fresh start. We congratulate Congressman Ryan for his clear-eyed approach on entitlements.

It won’t be easy to reform entitlements (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security). “Hard” considerably understates the problem of passing true reform. But, at least policymakers are finally beginning to address the hard problems – the “adult” conversation we were promised – and debate the tough issues. Bipartisan groups are already making strides toward this debate in the Senate, but partisan barriers will be hard to surmount.

Still, how can anyone not feel just a little bit more optimistic on this fine spring day?