Put Congress in charge of “reforming” the nation’s health-care system, and expect a big barrel of bad cholesterol. Fox News details some of the billions of dollars worth of grants, “demonstration programs,” and other handouts to the states tucked into both the House and Senate bills. Many of the pork gifts don’t even have anything to do with health. Just a few:
Demonstration Program to Promote Access for Medicare Beneficiaries With “Limited English Proficiency”
Section 1222 of the House-passed bill would empower the secretary of health and human services to award no fewer than 24 three-year grants for Medicare providers in communities where many people don’t speak English. The money would go toward interpreter services to help break through the language barrier between the providers and those who need medical help.
The cost: $16 million a year. No grant could be over $500,000.
Grants for “Early Childhood Home Visitation Programs”
Section 2951 of the Senate bill would authorize the secretary to make grants to states and non-profits for early childhood visitation programs. The programs would be aimed at improving maternal and newborn health; preventing child injuries and abuse; improving school performance; reducing domestic violence; and improving “family economic self-sufficiency.” Not all of those goals are health care-related, though, and are included in a section that asks states to conduct “needs assessments” examining issues like high-school dropout rates and unemployment.
The cost: $1.5 billion over five years. The program allows the grant recipients to go three years without submitting a performance report to the secretary.
Grants to Promote “Positive Health Behaviors and Outcomes”
Section 2530 in the House bill authorizes federal officials to award grants to promote healthy behavior in medically underserved areas. The goal would be to educate those communities about the risks associated with poor nutrition, tobacco use, lack of exercise and other health problems.
The cost: $30 million over five years.
And that doesn’t even count the $300 million in “Hurricane Katrina relief” (now when was Katrina–almost five years ago?) in order to secure Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s vote. But as Newsweek blogger Katie Connolly assures us, “Senator Mary Landrieu is not a prostitute!” That’s because, according to Connolly, “The funds will help cover medical costs for the poor and uninsured, which, in part thanks to Katrina, Louisiana has in spades.”
I like the “in part” part.