Affordable Care Act’s Independent Patient Advisory Board (IPAB)

Background:

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) was established by the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 and is charged with reducing Medicare costs. Should the cost associated with operating Medicare exceed the rate of inflation, a trigger is reached and this board is engaged.

Impact to Grangers:

Health care jobs are essential to rural economies & IPAB could jeopardize job stability and diminish the quality of care provided in rural areas.

  • Rural residents are more likely to be older, poorer, & not carry health insurance
  • 10-15% of the rural workforce is directly employed by the health care industry
  • Local hospitals are often the 2nd or 3rd largest employer in rural areas.
  • Currently, there are 2,157 Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) in rural areas, in contrast to 910 in urban areas
  • Only 10% of physicians practice in rural areas.
  • PPACA has already cut nearly $500 billion out of Medicare, & IPAB recommendations, to begin in 2015, could cut even more, creating a reluctance to begin new construction projects or hire new staff in rural areas.
  • The American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association have warned that due to cuts in payment rates, providers will find it harder to offer quality care to Medicare recipients.

IPAB structure lacks democratic oversight. Powers given to IPAB far exceed any other federally established institution since the creation of the Federal Reserve Board and unlike any other branch of the U.S. Government, IPAB is unchecked by any other branch.

  • Recommendations made by IPAB automatically become law unless Congress/President can provide own solutions that save the same amount or greater, or the Senate rejects the proposal with a 3/5 majority vote.
  • Changes to Medicare by IPAB cannot be overruled by the President, and is not subject to judicial review.
  • Members of IPAB are appointed by the President in rotating terms, not elected.
  • A vote of a simple majority can send a proposal to Congress without the presence of a quorum or other minimum attendance rule.

Current Status:

IPAB Board nominations are set to begin this year, with confirmations occurring in 2012. Assuming triggers are met, IPAB’s first recommendations to Congress would be due January 15, 2014.

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Postal Reform

Issue:

Obligated by the U.S. Constitution to deliver mail and create mail routes, the U.S. Postal Service no longer receives any form of funding from the federal government but continues to be under strict Congressional supervision and monetary obligation. The estimated 25% drop in mail volume, combined with the restrictions enforced by Congress prevent the organization from evolving with a changing market, in which it must now compete. The organization is also mandated to make a prepayment to the Federal Employee Retirement System
towards the future health benefits of its employees, unlike any other federal agency. Between the financial mandates that have been levied on the USPS and the overreaching operating restrictions that Congress has placed on the organization, financial failure is inevitable without Congressional reform.

Background:

  • The United States Postal Service is currently in financial default due to requirements placed upon it by Congress to prepay employee retirement contributions to the Federal Employee Retirement Fund (FERS), unlike any other unfunded federal entity. USPS is also required to get Congressional approval for every proposed operational change to postal rates, hours of operation or introduction of new products.
  • The U.S. Postal Service will not be able to pay employees or continue services as early as August of 2012 if reforms are not made.
  • The U.S. Postal Service employs more than 600,000 career employees and is the 2nd largest civilian employer in the United States. To allow this organization to fail would have catastrophic ramifications to the already anemic economy and would heavily burden the already strained unemployment insurance system.
  • There is no other population of Americans who rely on the U.S. Postal Service more than those who live in rural areas. Rural residents, as opposed to those in urban areas, face greater challenges accessing high-speed internet, retail areas and access to healthcare and pharmacies.
  • Remote locations, smaller populations, and fewer local services increase the dependence of rural Americans on the daily operations of the Postal Service.

Position:

The National Grange has a long history of fighting to establish rural free mail delivery and defend and sustain the U.S. Postal Service mission. The National Grange supports Congressional reforms which will allow the USPS to continue to provide critical delivery services to rural residents and those living in outlying or noncontiguous areas. We support a 6-day mail service schedule but realize that the viability of a new USPS may involve the elimination of many services. We urge the federal government to allow the U.S. Postal Service to be
innovative and flexible in the modern business world and develop a competitive culture within their employees, so it may restore itself to financial and operational soundness and continue to fulfill its mission.

Current Status:

On April 25, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 by a vote of 62-37. The House must now act on S. 1789 or their own version of a postal reform mechanism by May 14th to avoid earlier scheduled post office closings. On Dec. 13, 2011 the U.S. Postal Service voluntarily agreed
Established in 1867, the National Grange is a rural and agricultural fraternal organization has more than 200,000 members in 2,700 communities throughout 40 states. Elected member delegates meet annually to develop legislative policy for the coming year. For more information on the National Grange legislative policies and programs, please visit www.nationalgrange.org.
to the request from 22 U.S. Senators for a five-month moratorium until May 15 on closing postal facilities.

Related pending legislation:

S.1789 – 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 –This bill — from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) — would address USPS retiree health benefit prefunding, five-day delivery, door delivery, labor arbitration and USPS downsizing, and require a study of underused classes and products to determine how their costs are affected by USPS excess capacity. It would also block the agency from scrapping Saturday delivery for at least two years.

H.R. 2309 – the House GOP reform plan, from Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), differs from its Senate counterpart over how to deal with the Postal Service’s labor costs and how many days USPS should deliver the mail. H.R. 2309 establishes a Commission on Postal Reorganization (CPR) to review and assess consolidation and closings plans submitted by the USPS. 6-day service would be preserved for a minimum 6 months and it creates a new authority called the Post Service Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority which would assume full control of the USPS, if the annual deficit if over $2 billion after two years. Establishes a control period in which the newly created authority would take over all forms of USPS oversight and plan implementation ranging from structure and staffing to pricing and products.

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The Need for Free and Open Spectrum Auctions

Congress can avert the spectrum crunch and ensure that American consumers and businesses realize the benefits of wireless broadband technology by approving spectrum auction legislation as part of the payroll tax extension package. The auctions would also generate billions of dollars of new federal revenue to help cut the deficit.

Setting parameters for how the FCC should conduct auctions is an appropriate exercise of Congress’s Constitutional responsibility for establishing public policy (as well as regulatory oversight). It also assures that the FCC carries out its proper role as an impartial administrator of the auction process.

But, we must do auctions right by opening them to every qualified bidder on equal terms so that the market chooses winners and losers. For example, last year’s HR 3630 would have prohibited the FCC from playing favorites with counterproductive eligibility requirements that would reduce the effectiveness of the auction by limiting participation. Such language should be included in any comprehensive spectrum legislation.

  • Wide participation will provide the most efficient allocation of spectrum and ensure that it is put to the best use. It will also guarantee the best price for the Treasury. Given the size of the investment, the winning bidder will have every incentive to make it work.

Broad eligibility rules are essential to effective auction legislation because the FCC seems intent on setting conditions that would distort the bidding and could rig the outcome The Commission may even seek to exclude some qualified participants (AT&T, Verizon) in a misguided attempt at central planning to reshape the wireless market.

  • Historically, similar conditions imposed by the Commission in the recent C Block and D Block auctions cost the Treasury money and caused the outright failure of the D Block (public safety) auction. That spectrum remains unused.

The expansion of wireless broadband networks and services is driving economic growth, creating jobs, and enhancing productivity.

  • A new study by economists Robert Shapiro and Kevin Hassett says the transition from 2G to 3G created almost 1.6 million jobs between April 2007 and June 2011, and the buildout of 4G should add over 230,000 new U.S. jobs by the end of this year.
  • Deloitte Consulting estimates that the widespread deployment of 4G could create as many as 771,000 jobs over the next several years.

Demand for wireless services is growing exponentially.

  • The amount of data that AT&T delivers over its wireless network grew by 8,000 percent from 2007 to 2010, and by 2015 AT&T will deliver as much data in 5-7 weeks as it now delivers in a year. Other wireless carriers are experiencing similar data growth.

Meeting this demand and achieving the full economic and social benefits of wireless broadband technology requires a sufficient supply of spectrum – and we are on the verge of running out.

The United States cannot afford a repeat of those mistakes, which would reduce auction proceeds and could jeopardize the fast and effective buildout of wireless infrastructure through misallocation of scarce spectrum resources.

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Open Spectrum Auction – Benefits Consumers & Competition

Passage of major spectrum legislation was an important step forward in making more spectrum available for wireless services which can benefit consumers, and our economy and help create more jobs in the United States. But we must ensure that these auctions stay open and fair to all participants.

A neutral spectrum auction, “open to all bidders and free of conditions, benefits consumers and competition, as well as the treasury.” – Anna-Maria Kovacs, Visiting Senior Policy Scholar at Georgetown University’s Center for Business and Public Policy

Why are open and fair spectrum auctions so important?

  • The spectrum crunch impacts all carriers. Carriers with large customer bases need additional spectrum as much as, if not more than, smaller carriers.
  • All consumers, regardless of the carrier they choose, deserve a high-quality wireless experience – more spectrum is needed to ensure faster data download speeds and uninterrupted voice calls.
  • Wide participation in spectrum auctions will provide the most efficient allocation of spectrum and ensure that it is put to the best use. It will also guarantee the best price for the Treasury.
  • Allowing all qualified bidders to participate in the auction an equal terms allows the market to determine winners and losers, not the Government in some form of central planning.
  • Setting parameters for how the FCC should conduct auctions is an appropriate exercise of Congress’s constitutional responsibility for establishing public policy (as well as regulatory oversight). It also assures that the FCC carries out its proper role as an impartial administrator of the auction process.
  • Auctions must be done right by opening them to every qualified bidder on equal terms so that the market chooses winners and losers.

The Spectrum Crunch: How We Got Here

“The number-one biggest driver is consumers’ insatiable thirst for e-mail, apps and particularly video on their mobile devices – anywhere, anytime. Another catalyst is the way the U.S. government allocated spectrum. The bands that wireless companies hold were broken up into small chunks across various markets, which was helpful in increasing competition in the 1990s. But the patchwork nature has proven problematic for new technologies like high-speed 4G broadband. Bigger swaths of uninterrupted spectrum provide the larger amounts of bandwidth needed for delivering faster speeds.” – David Goldman from CNNMoney, Feb. 21, 2012

Congress Sees Need To Manage Spectrum

“…lawmakers have agreed to let the federal government raise as much as $25 billion by auctioning off valuable wireless spectrum, promising better mobile service for tens of millions of consumers and opening up new frequencies for nextgeneration WiFi networks…Under the plan, the Federal Communications Commission will auction off unused wireless spectrum currently owned by TV broadcasters. In return, the broadcasters will get a chunk of the auction proceeds, estimated to be nearly $2 billion…Wireless companies like AT&T and Verizon will be able to buy the newly-available spectrum, and then deploy it to bolster mobile broadband networks nationwide to address the growing “spectrum crunch” fueled by exploding wireless data usage.” – Sam Gustin of Time Magazine, Feb. 17, 2012

The final legislation makes clear that the FCC cannot exclude qualified wireless carriers from bidding. Instead, any such exclusion would have to go through a separate public rulemaking with general industry applicability.

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NPDES Permits for Federally Permitted Pesticides

By: Chemical Producers & Distributors Association Issue Brief

Background

In January 2009, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that biological pesticides and residues left in water from products regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) were a pollutant and should be regulated under the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) National Pollutant Dis-charge Elimination System (NPDES). Despite 38 years of successful regulation of pesticides under FIFRA, the court has now forced the EPA to construct a CWA permitting program to regulate applications of pesticide products to, over, and near waters that are under the jurisdiction of the CWA. In set-ling the lawsuit, EPA agreed to impose a permitting regime by April 9, 2011.

FIFRA processes are designed to protect both human health and the environment. To be approved a chemical compound must go through rigorous testing and review, often taking years, to determine the application rate, and to ensure that it does not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.

EPA is currently in the final stages of designing a permit for four types of pesticide application to, over or near regulated waters: (1) mosquitoes and other flying insect control; (2) aquatic weeds and algae control; (3) aquatic pest control; and (4) forest canopy pest control. EPA will implement the permit in 6 states where the states lack the authority to develop a permit; the 44 remaining states will be encouraged to use the final permit as a framework to develop their own permits. EPA’s final permit is expected to be released in early March 2011, leaving states little time to draft, propose, comment on, and seek approval of their own permits.

Position

CPDA believes the Court wrongly decided the case by not deferring to EPA’s interpretation of the CWA that biological pesticides and residues of chemical pesticides applied in accordance with FIFRA are not pollutants subject to CWA permits because they are not “both a pollutant, and from a point source” at the time of discharge.

Many States will not be able to meet the deadline for having their final NPDES pesticide permit pro-grams in place but would still be liable for compliance, leaving the states and applicators open to citizen suits under the CWA. A single violation of the CWA can cost $37,500 per day and can quickly put an operator out of business for a ‘paperwork’ violation.

The regulation will be tremendously burdensome taking over a million man-hours, equal to about 114 years in paperwork alone to comply, and will cost over $50 million annually for the 365,000 permitees and 44 states.

More importantly, as noted in the proposed rulemaking the environmental benefits from this massive outlay of time and effort are negligible, at best.

Congress needs to pass legislation immediately to exempt FIFRA approved products from the CWA.

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The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act

Sponsored by Representative Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod Brown

The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act will improve federal farm bill programs that support local and regional farm and food systems. This legislation will help farmers and ranchers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs and will also assist consumers by improving access to healthy food and direct and retail markets. And of utmost importance, this legislation will provide more secure funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities, and invest in the local agriculture economy.

The Benefits of Local and Regional Food Systems
Local and regional agriculture is a major economic driver in the farm economy. There are now more than 7,000 farmers markets throughout the United States—a 150 percent increase since 2000, direct to consumer sales have accounted for more than $1.2 billion in annual revenues. Now, on the heels of that expansion, we are witnessing the rapid growth of local and regional food markets that have scaled up beyond direct marketing. Together these markets represent important new job growth and economic development.

The Local Farm, Food, and Jobs Act will:
Boost Income and Opportunities for Farmers and Ranchers by –

  • Improving access to Farm Service Agency credit programs for farmers and ranchers producing for local and regional food markets.
  • Requiring Farm Credit Services institutions to enhance lending opportunities for farmers and ranchers producing for local and regional food markets.
  • Funding Value-Added Producer Grants at an annual amount $30 million and expanding the program to include food hubs and outreach to underserved states and communities.
  • Authorizing the Risk Management Agency to develop a whole farm revenue insurance product for diversified operations, including specialty crops & mixed grain/livestock or dairy operations.
  • Directing the Risk Management Agency to eliminate the organic premium surcharge and to complete the development of organic price series.
  • Funding the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program at an annual amount $7 million and raising the maximum cap per participants from $750 to $1,000.
  • Expands the production of fruits and vegetables by allowing greater planting flexibility for commodity program participants.
  • Funding farmer food safety training through the National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach and Technical Assistance program at an annual amount of $15 million.
  • Improving opportunities for local and regional food producers to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Farmland Protection Program, Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, and Technical Assistance.

Improve Local and Regional Food System Infrastructure and Markets by –

  • Increasing the Business and Industry loan funding set-aside for local and regionally produced agriculture products and food enterprises.
  • Providing authority for local and regional food system funding under Rural Business Opportunity Grants, Rural Business Enterprise Grants, & Community Facility Grants & Loans.
  • Funding the Local Marketing Promotion Program — the former Farmers Market Promotion Program plus funding for larger scale, non-direct local marketing — at $30 million per year.
  • Funding the Specialty Crop Block Grant program at an annual amount of $90 million and creating an annual allocation for local and regional crop and market development.
  • Improving Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) outreach and technical assistance to small and very small livestock processing plants.
  • Requiring FSIS to create guidance for small and very small livestock processing plants to better enable compliance with food safety requirements.
  • Requiring FSIS to provide an electronic submission option for the meat label approval process and to create a searchable database of existing meat labels.
  • Directing USDA to produce a report to Congress on additional steps that can be taken to better meet the needs of small poultry growers and processors.

Expand Access to Healthy Foods for Consumers by –

  • Improving SNAP participant access to farmers markets, CSAs, and other direct marketing outlets by creating a level playing field for electronic benefit transfer among vendors.
  • Improving SNAP Education and Outreach by encouraging states to use farmers markets and other direct marketing outlets as a venue for nutrition education activities and providing states the discretion to include nutrition incentives as part of educational efforts.
  • Funding the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program at $25 million a year.
  • Providing $10 million for the Community Food Projects program and increasing the maximum grant term from three to five years.
  • Allowing schools the option to use a portion of their AMS school lunch commodity dollars or DoD Fresh program dollars for the purchase of local and regional foods.
  • Bolstering requirements that specify AMS purchases use a geographic preference for the procurement of locally produced foods.
  • Amending Section 32 to support the development of local and regional agriculture markets.
  • Encouraging States to include community-supported agriculture programs as eligible to participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

Enhance Agriculture Research and Extension by –

  • Establishing local and regional food systems as an added new priority area within the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.
  • Authorizing an Extension technical assistance initiative to help create sustainable local and regional food systems in the neediest parts of rural America.
  • Creating a new initiative for the collection and production of critically important research data on local and regional food systems.
  • Directing USDA Research, Education, and Extension Office to coordinate classical plant and animal breeding research activities and projects to develop locally-adapted cultivars and breeds.

All Members are invited and encouraged to co-sponsor the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. For further information, please contact Claire Benjamin in Rep. Pingree’s office at (202) 225-6116 or Claire.Benjamin@mail.house.gov or Kristin Vennekotter in Sen. Brown’s office at (202) 224-2315 or Kristin_Vennekotter@brown.senate.gov

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Immigration Issue Brief

Issue:

Illegal immigration is a growing problem in the United States, with more than 13 million illegal aliens currently dwelling within our borders. Illegal immigration places a fiscal burden on taxpayers, costs them millions of jobs, increases crime and acts of violence, significantly impacts our school systems and neighborhoods, and leaves our nation vulnerable to acts of terrorism.

Background:

  • According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), there are over 13 million illegal aliens within U.S. borders
  • Illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers over $113 billion a year
  • An estimated 60% of illegal aliens enter the country illegally
  • An estimated 1,880,000 American workers are displaced from their jobs every year by immigration
  • 25% of federal prison population is foreign-born; the INS deports over 30,000 criminal aliens annually
  • American taxpayers pay approximately $30 billion annually to educate immigrant children
  • Insecure borders leave the U.S. vulnerable to terror attacks as suspects are able to slip through border security.

Position:

The National Grange supports the strict enforcement of the immigration laws of the United States, including efforts by the government to patrol our borders, prevent the illegal entry of aliens into our nation, and the assignment of military forces to assist in this process. The Grange further supports a prohibition on general amnesty for all illegal aliens of any nationality and suggests that proof of citizenship and/or legal registered immigration be required for receiving government benefits. Federal authorities should also be allowed to detain illegal immigrants and foreigners with expired visas for the duration of their investigation. In addition, the Grange supports the continuation of the legal program to bring workers into the U.S. on a temporary basis for the harvesting of seasonal crops. Similarly, the Grange holds that agricultural employers are not responsible for checking the authenticity of migrant and seasonal worker documentation and those who unknowingly hire illegal aliens should not be fined or taxed.

Current Status:

As of April 2011, there are 20,745 employed border patrol agents, with approximately 17, 660 of them stationed along America’s border with Mexico; that’s more than double the amount of agents employed in 2004. S. 952, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, aka- the DREAM Act, if passed, would grant permanent conditional residency to alien students of “good moral standing.” In addition, H.R. 140 is still making its way through Congress, but if passed, would eliminate birthright citizenship and change standards to say that children born in the U.S. must have at least one American parent to be considered a citizen.

Related Legislation:

S. 952- DREAM Act
H.R. 140- amends section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act
H.R. 43- further amends the Immigration and Nationality Act

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HSUS/UEP Alliance

Issue:

The Humane Society of the United States has formed an alliance with the United Egg Producers in a joint effort to petition Congress to ban the use of battery cages on America’s farms and ranches, and replace them with the more enriched colony cages. Battery cages are roughly 18×20 inches and usually house 4-5 chickens at a time. Advocates of the proposal say the tiny and overcrowded nature of battery cages provide cruel living conditions for America’s egg-laying chickens, as opposed to enriched colony cages that would provide twice as much room for hens to move about. If passed, the proposal would be the first federal mandate dealing with the humane treatment of farm animals overriding what has been historically the jurisdiction of the states.

Background:

  • The United Egg Producers (UEP) represent 87% of domestic egg producers and 95% of
  • According to farmsanctuary.org, there are currently 280 million hens living in battery cages & the proposed regulation would eventually faze them out completely by 2029.
  • The proposal is set to cost between 4 & 10 billion dollars over the next 15-20 years.
  • If passed, the proposal would outlaw the sale of eggs & egg products from chickens kept in battery cages.
  • The proposal applies only to egg-laying chickens & not chickens that are raised for meat, other poultry species, or other breeds of livestock.
  • Egg Farmers of America, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Association, National Farmers Union, National Turkey Federation, & the National Milk Producers Federation have sent a letter in opposition to the proposal.
  • United Egg Producers represent 87% of domestic egg producers.

Position:

National Grange policy states the regulation of livestock and poultry care should be a state’s issue and does not support the establishment of federal standards on the subject. A federal law outlining what constitutes “humane” treatment towards egg-laying chickens will pave the way for future regulations on the treatment of other breeds of livestock. In addition, the proposed regulation will create more paperwork for America’s farmers and ranchers, who are already burdened with excessive red tape.

Current Status:

Eight leading ag groups have submitted a letter to the House Agricultural Committee in opposition to the proposal, stating that it is “an unconscionable federal overreach” that would establish “costly and unnecessary animal rights mandates,” and ensure that “Congress will be in the egg business for years to come.” That letter is still under consideration by the committee.

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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Broadband: Creating Jobs & Driving Economic Growth

Speaking at LivingSocial’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski addressed America’s broadband opportunities and  examines why high-speed Internet is vital to U.S. job creation, economic growth and global competitiveness. While recognizing the critical role of the private sector to build out our nation’s broadband infrastructure, Chairman Genachowski said that government also has an essential role. Namely, he discussed the need to unleash more spectrum for mobile broadband through voluntary incentive auctions; expanding access by connecting more schools, libraries and hospitals to broadband through Universal Service Fund reform; and growing the rate of adoption by giving Americans the necessary tools to get online.

BROADBAND IS VITAL TO JOB CREATION AND AMERICA’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY

  • According to a new report by McKinsey, broadband creates 2.6 new jobs for every one job lost.
  • A 7% increase in broadband penetration could create an additional 2.4 million new jobs.
  • Deloitte projects 771,000 new jobs as a result of 4G-network deployment.
  • $8 trillion are exchanged over the Internet each year.
  • Over the past 15 years, the Internet has enabled as much economic growth as the Industrial Revolution generated in its first 50 years.
  • In the U.S., the Internet accounted for 8% of America’s GDP growth from 1995-2009. Since 2004, it’s accounted for 15% of U.S. GDP growth.

BROADBAND IS PROVING TO BE AN ENDURING ENGINE FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH

  • Broadband is our innovation infrastructure, enabling collaboration and boosting productivity.
  • The U.S. remains the dominant player in the global broadband economy:
    • The U.S. captures 30% of all Internet revenue worldwide and more than 40% of net income.
    • The U.S. completed the transition to digital TV before other countries.
    • The U.S. has the highest number of 3G subscribers and are ahead of the world in deploying 4G networks
  • In the U.S., consumers are projected to purchase 26.5 million tablets. More than 30% of doctors have
  • already adopted tablets.
  • The “apps economy” is projected to generate $4 billion in sales in 2011, $38 billion by 2015.
  • Cloud computing is generating $60 billion annually in sales in North America.
  • Investment in wireless networks was up 20% in 2010 and venture capital investment in start-ups is at its highest levels since 2001.
  • The tech sector is the most profitable part of the U.S. economy. Tech companies in the S&P 500 are projected to earn 18% of the index’s total earnings – more than any other sector.

CLOSING THE SPECTRUM, CONNECTION, ADOPTION, SKILLS & UTILIZATION GAPS

  • Without action, demand for mobile broadband spectrum will soon outstrip supply. Mobile networks will become increasingly congested, resulting in more dropped calls and slower downloads. Consumers will face not only a decrease in service quality, but also an increase in prices.
  • Nearly 100 million Americans – or one-third of the U.S. population – lack access to broadband.
  • 20 million Americans can’t get online, even if they wanted to.
  • In the U.S., there is a 68% adoption rate, compared to 90% in South Korea or Singapore.
  • 63% of hiring managers for tech positions say talent shortage the reason for open positions
  • According to Indeed.com, there are 12 metropolitan areas in which the ratio of job postings to unemployed people is 1:1 – that’s one job posting for every person looking for a job.
  • McKinsey & Company estimates better use of health IT could reduce U.S. health care costs by $200 billion a year, and deliver another $100 billion in value for improved health outcomes.

FCC AGENDA: MOBILIZE AMERICA, CONNECT AMERICA & EMPOWER AMERICA

  • Voluntary incentive auctions are the single-most effect lever to unleash more spectrum for mobile broadband. CBO estimates spectrum auctions could raise $25 billion for U.S. deficit reduction and pay for a mobile broadband public safety network, which could create thousands of jobs.
  • Modernizing the Universal Service Fund by building broadband infrastructure for the 20 million rural Americans who are currently denied access would expand the U.S. broadband market and create jobs.
  • By promoting digital literacy and broadband adoption, the FCC is giving tools to consumers to help find and perform jobs and reap significant cost-savings in education, healthcare, e-government and much more.

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Fight Fraud First! Eliminating Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Medicare and Medicaid to Generate Billions of Dollars in Federal Savings

This year, many issues are on the minds of voters. Healthcare is undoubtedly at the forefront. Senior citizens who rely on Medicare and Medicaid for their healthcare will be looking to lawmakers to prevent harmful cuts to these programs and for protection from additional Medicare costs that many simply cannot afford.

Considering that Medicare and Medicaid make improper payments of tens of billions of dollars each year, Congress should first look for ways to strengthen these programs through improved systems that better detect and prevent fraud and abuse. While recognized as high-risk programs, Congress needs to take the appropriate actions to assess vulnerabilities within these systems to prevent improper payments, fraud and abuse before considering harmful funding cuts and unnecessary cost shifting onto beneficiaries to achieve federal savings.

Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Cost Americans At Least $65 Billion in 2011
According to some government estimates, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made upwards of $65 billion in improper payments in 2011. While steps have been taken to prevent improper payments, fraud and abuse, there is great opportunity for advancing solutions that prevent fraud before it occurs. Today, the federal government operates in a “pay and chase” system that is inefficient. Identifying wasteful spending and criminal activity after the fact is too late – fraudulent and wasteful spending must be stopped before valuable taxpayer dollars reach criminal hands.

Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid payments can jeopardize access to affordable, quality healthcare services, therefore we ask Congress to protect healthcare programs from harmful cuts and advance solutions that prevent the billions of dollars in improper payments made each year. The answer is advanced and targeted reforms that strengthen Medicare and Medicaid and protect the beneficiaries.

The Right Approach: Improving Program Integrity and Targeting Waste, Fraud and Abuse
The FFF! Coalition supports the adoption of common sense policies that can both strengthen program integrity and produce savings, while eliminating fraud, abuse and waste and preserving beneficiary access. Comprehensive solutions are needed to address this problem instead of across-the-board cuts to Medicare or expensive copayments on seniors.

Leading business sectors and healthcare communities have created models for successfully managing fraud and abuse. For example, the $17 trillion credit card industry experiences .044% percent fraud – Medicare loses an estimated up to 10 percent. Likewise, the home healthcare community has developed targeted reforms, such as capping aberrant outlier payments, which could save billions of Medicare dollars by stopping fraud before it occurs.

The Bottom Line
Clearly, more needs to be done to fight waste, fraud and abuse to ensure Medicare and Medicaid funding is used how it is intended – for needed healthcare services for our nation’s oldest, poorest and most vulnerable populations. Program integrity and other measures that can generate savings, preserve beneficiary access, and strengthen the Medicare and Medicaid programs should be considered, rather than harmful cuts and shifting costs to America’s seniors and people with disabilities.

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