On February 24, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress in anticipation of releasing his budget overview on February 26. The complete budget is expected in April. The $3.6 trillion budget focuses on health care reform, energy independence and green technology, and proposes changes to tax policy in 2011 to offset the cost of such reforms.
In his budget message, the president acknowledged the “deep recession” making it difficult for “families to borrow money to afford a home, car, or college education for their kids. Many families cannot pay their bills or their mortgage payments…And millions of Americans are unsure about the future if their job will be there tomorrow, if their children will be able to go to college, and if their grandchildren will be able to realize the full promise of America.”
The following highlights new and existing programs of interest to women and their families. The page numbers listed below correspond to the page in the PDF document.
The president proposes a dramatic overhaul of the current health care system (p. 27-30). The budget proposes a reserve fund of $630 billion over the next 10 years to pay for health care reform. Some of the $630 billion would be offset by reducing the itemized deduction tax rate for families earning $250,000 a year or more, reducing Medicare overpayments to physicians and hospitals, reducing prescription drug prices, improving hospital re-admission rates, “pay for performance” for physicians and institutions delivering quality care, and moving to electronic medical records to reduce medical errors (p. 68).
The budget would increase funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and fund Child Nutrition programs at $1 billion (p. 45 & 47). It also would “care for our men and women in uniform” by addressing the mental health needs of soldiers, including those suffering from traumatic brain injury (p. 55 & 95)
The FY2010 budget would provide $6 billion for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (p. 68) and $330 million to “address the shortage of health care providers in certain areas” (p. 69). Reducing health disparities and preventing teen pregnancy are also administration goals (p. 70).
The administration’s budget proposes changes to unemployment insurance, such as making the program more accessible during economic recession, improving the financial integrity of the program, and reducing overpayments to individuals and fraud (p. 83-84).
The budget also would improve small business technical assistance programs, such as Women’s Business Centers and microloan programs (p. 108).
The president would invest in “high-quality early childhood education,” including “zero-to-five” programs (p. 59); $1.1 billion would be directed to Early Head Start, $1 billion to Head Start, and $2 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant (p. 70). President Obama would provide funding for a new program, Promise Neighborhoods, which would aim to “improve academic achievement and life outcomes in high-poverty areas” (p. 60). The maximum Pell Grant would increase to $5,500 in the FY2010-2011 school year. Pell Grants also would automatically increase, as it would be indexed to the Consumer Price Index plus one percent (p. 61).
The “administration will continue to build on its commitment to save lives through increasing investments in global health programs, including areas such as maternal and child health, family planning and other core healthprograms, while also emphasizing a commitment to HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis through successful programs, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Malaria Initiative” (p. 88).