Virginia Birkofer

Coalition Urges Support for Increased Oversight Over CMMI

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Posted by Virginia Birkofer on Monday, June 12th, 2017, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

ATR President Grover Norquist today joined with six other free market, conservative groups urging increased oversight for the Obamacare Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). 

CMMI is tasked with conducting demonstrations over new health care delivery and payment models in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program with the intent of reducing healthcare costs.

However, the agency is implementing tests with little, or no evidence that it would result in savings, while also strong-arming healthcare providers and patients into participating. Congress is also limited in its ability to conduct routine and necessary oversight.

Concurrently, the Congressional Budget Office has adjusted the budget baseline under the assumption that proposed CMMI demonstrations have already entered into effect and are successful. This only further binds the hands of lawmakers as any attempt to block a demonstration from being implemented is scored as increasing the deficit, even though these demonstrations are in their infancy.

The full letter can be found here and is pasted below:

June 12, 2017

The Honorable Tom Price
Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Price:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we write to reiterate our long-standing support for full repeal of Obamacare including repeal of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI).

In the meantime, we urge you to institute several common-sense guardrails around CMMI to prevent it from doing unnecessary harm to patients and providers.

As you know, CMMI was created when Obamacare was signed into law seven years ago. The agency was tasked with conducting demonstrations over new health care delivery and payment models in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program with the intent of reducing healthcare costs.

Although CMMI’s demonstrations were supposed to increase the efficiency of healthcare programs, the Obama administration pushed these tests with little evidence they would result in savings, while strong-arming healthcare providers and patients into participating.

The agency is also not under the normal appropriations process – Obamacare gave CMMI $10 billion every decade in perpetuity. As a result, Congress is limited in its ability to conduct routine, necessary oversight.

Concurrently, the Congressional Budget Office has adjusted the budget baseline under the assumption that proposed CMMI demonstrations have already entered into effect and are successful. This only further binds the hands of lawmakers as any attempt to block a demonstration from being implemented is scored as increasing the deficit, even though these demonstrations are in their infancy.

Given these facts, it is clear that the agency needs to be restrained. As such, we suggest four guardrails be implemented. 

First, CMMI demonstrations should be true tests and not forced changes to policy. One way to do this would be to limit the number of affected beneficiaries to a small amount, such as 10 percent of the total beneficiary population, while also limiting the time period that any demonstration occurs.

Second, Congress should be included in the CMMI decision-making process. Rather than top down control, CMMI should consult with Congressional leadership and Committee chairs from both parties to prevent surprises and unintended consequences and gather input from key policymakers.

Third, participation in CMMI projects should be voluntary, not mandatory. A mandatory demonstration project on a broad population for an indeterminate period of time is a policy change, not a controlled test. In essence, this gives unelected bureaucrats the ability to make broad policy changes with few, if any consequences or limitations.

Fourth, greater input should be required from stakeholders in CMMI projects. Health providers and patients should be consulted ahead of time to give the agency better insight on how a CMMI demonstration will impact Americans. Doing so would ensure that demonstrations are truly conducted based on sound evidence and with the goal of increasing efficiency.

As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, you conducted important oversight over CMMI. As Secretary of HHS, we encourage you to continue this work and ensure that CMMI is held accountable.

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Tom Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Adam Brandon
President, FreedomWorks

Carrie L. Lukas
Managing Director, Independent Women's Forum

Heather R. Higgins
President and CEO, Independent Women's Voice

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union

Dr. Merrill Matthews
Resident Scholar, Institute for Policy Innovation

 

 

Photo Credit: 
Photo in the Public Domain, link:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Repeal_ObamaCare_%284527428186%29.jpg

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Tax Reform Should Include Territoriality for Individuals

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Posted by Virginia Birkofer on Thursday, June 8th, 2017, 12:34 PM PERMALINK

Today, the U.S. is one of two countries that has citizenship-based taxation. This outdated system affects an estimated eight million Americans that live abroad. The final tax reform legislation should implement territoriality for individuals through the establishment of residence-based taxation.

In support of residence-based taxation, ATR submitted a statement for the record to the House Ways and Means official hearing entitled, “Increasing U.S. Competitiveness and Preventing American Jobs from Moving Overseas.” Urging the committee to ensure that residence-based taxation is implemented in the final tax reform legislation. [Read The Full Letter Here]

Implementing territoriality for individuals is crucial because under the existing system, American businesses are disadvantaged when competing with foreign competitors for they face double taxation and burdensome international rules.

However, the system of worldwide taxation is not limited to businesses. American citizens also face this system as they are taxed regardless of whether they reside in the U.S. or in a foreign country.

Under this system, American citizens residing abroad must comply with complex IRS rules and are double taxed on income - once when they earn it overseas and again by the U.S. government solely because they are citizens.

Moving to territoriality for individuals will end this needless double taxation. This reform will also increase job opportunities for Americans overseas and reduce the power of the IRS.

Currently, American citizens working overseas face a disadvantage compared to expatriates from other countries when applying for employment, as it is substantially more expensive for a business to hire an American under these tax laws. Implementing residence-based taxation will reduces compliance burdens associated with hiring Americans so that U.S. citizens working overseas are hired on a more level playing field and thereby increase job opportunities for Americans.

Moving to residence-based taxation has the added effect of diminishing the need for the IRS to act as a global police force. Because citizens residing abroad would (in most cases) no longer need to worry about paying U.S. taxes, this reform could reduce the size and scope of the IRS international division, allowing the agency to be streamlined.

It is vital that any tax reform legislation includes territoriality for individuals. Implementing a system where Americans are taxed based on their residence would make tax compliance far simpler and should be part of the effort to simplify the code for individuals.

 

 

Photo Credit: 
Photo in the Public Domain, link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Individual_taxation_systems.png

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ATR Suports the ABLE Act to Help Families with Disabled Children

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Posted by Virginia Birkofer on Wednesday, May 31st, 2017, 2:48 PM PERMALINK

Having a child with special needs is exceedingly expensive, costing a family roughly $2 million in a lifetime. To give financial planning options to these families, Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) is introducing both the ABLE Financial Planning Act (H.R. 1897) and the ABLE to Work Act (H.R. 1896), coupled with Representative Tony Cardenas’ (D-CA) ABLE Age Adjustment Act (H.R. 1874). These three bills, collectively known as ABLE 2.0, greatly benefit families with special needs children—all without requiring a penny of new government spending.

By creating new savings vehicles on ABLE Accounts, this program lifts legal barriers off of families with special needs and allows them to move towards self-sufficiency and long term financial independence.

The ABLE program—authorized under the same provision that allows families to save in 529 plans for college—permits the families to set aside as much as $500,000 for education and a range of other “qualified expenses” for their child. In doing so, the ABLE program allows these families to plan for their future.

If helping families with special needs children is not reason enough, the ABLE Act also reduces individuals’ need to rely upon public assistance in the long run, for the program incentivizes private savings on the part of families.

This program costs the tax payers zero dollars, increases private savings, decreases individual’s reliance upon the government and provides a simplified financial safety net to American families selflessly supporting special needs children. In a show of support, a coalition letter signed by organizations including: R street, Campaign for Liberty, National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform and the Coalition to Reduce Spending has been sent to all members of Congress. A program like this is key to helping families with special needs children and this legislation accomplishes that while not costing the taxpayers a dime. 

Photo Credit: 
Photo in the Public Domain, link: http://tpr.org/post/state-stands-behind-medicaid-cuts-disabled-children-now#stream/0

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ATR Supports Congressman Posey's Seniors’ Tax Simplification Act

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Posted by Virginia Birkofer on Wednesday, May 24th, 2017, 2:00 PM PERMALINK

Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) is introducing H.R. 1397, the “Seniors’ Tax Simplification Act.” This legislation simplifies the tax code for American seniors by creating a new tax form.

By including information for the most common types of income reported by seniors - interest, dividends, capital gains, Social Security benefits, pension payments, IRA distributions, wages, and unemployment compensation, this bill streamlines the process for many of the 23 million seniors who file taxes each year.

A similar form currently exist for young taxpayers – the 1040EZ—and should be utilized as a model for tax simplification. Supporting this legislation would help many Americans navigate the complicated tax system when they file.  

Read the letter here or below. 

 

May 24, 2017
The Honorable Bill Posey
United States House of Representatives
120 Cannon Hob
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Congressman Posey:

I write in support the “Seniors’ Tax Simplification Act,” legislation that simplifies tax filing for American seniors by creating a new tax form.

This bill would instruct the IRS to create a new form in the 1040 series designed especially for senior citizens with relatively-simple tax filing situations. The most common types of income reported by seniors would be on it—interest, dividends, capital gains, Social Security benefits, pension payments, IRA distributions, wages, and unemployment compensation.  

For younger taxpayers, a similar form exists today—the 1040-EZ. It only reports wages, interest, and unemployment compensation. Any (childless) single taxpayer or married couple under age 65 making less than $100,000 is eligible to file this short form. Nearly 5 million taxpayers take advantage of this convenient form every year.

There is no reason why a similar form can’t be made available to seniors. 23 million tax returns are filed every year in households where the primary taxpayer is over age 65. Many of these taxpayers could use this form easily to make tax season less complicated.

Passage of the Seniors’ Tax Simplification Act is a common sense measure lawmakers can support to help seniors across the country. All members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting and co-sponsoring this helpful legislation.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: 
Photo in the Public Domain, link: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/Bill_Posey.jpg

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Inspector General: IRS Mispays 31% of its Employees

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Posted by Virginia Birkofer on Thursday, May 18th, 2017, 5:05 PM PERMALINK

The IRS failed to correctly pay 31% of employees according to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Based on their sampling, TIGTA estimates that the IRS overpaid more than 600 employees by approximately $4.2 million and underpaid more than 900 employees by approximately $2.7 million.

The analysis was based on a sample of 4,985 IRS employees who were promoted into management positions and received pay increases that exceeded 10 percent between January 2006 and November 2015.

The IRS attributes these payment errors to complexities associated with setting pay when employees transiently move between the pay system of managerial and non-managerial roles—common to the cyclical nature of taxes. As the report notes:

“Cumbersome and confusing rules for setting pay resulted in mistakes when calculating pay for employees moving between the GS pay system and the management pay system”

These “cumbersome rules” on promotions between positions are as follows:

  • An employee selected for a first-time permanent management position is eligible for a one-time 10 percent pay increase.
  • An employee who is promoted from a management level position to another higher level management position, may receive an additional 10 percent pay increase.
  • An employee with prior management experience or selected for a temporary promotion into a management position is eligible for an 8 percent pay increase.
  • An employee who is promoted to a similar position to one they previously held may be entitled to receive increases that exceed the 10 percent and 8 percent.

 

The Inspector General’s report noted that the IRS recognized these problems existed in 2013, but failed to address them until 3 years later when The Inspector General announced their audit.

The last question that remains unresolved is whether the payment errors can be attributed to simple incompetency on the part of the IRS or malicious intent to bolster the income of some employees over that of others.

 

Photo Credit: 
Photo in the Public Domain, link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IRSlogo.png

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