Hurricane costs lead to political wrangling

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The high price tag of hurricane reconstruction has triggered a political debate over how the federal government should raise the money. The long-term care community could be in for a hit.

Federal costs related to hurricane relief could total $200 billion. At the urging of the president, White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten plans to press Congress to eliminate 150 programs and find $35 billion in savings from Medicaid and other such programs over the next five years. Mandatory programs could be good sources of extra funds, he said.

But Democrats want the president to look to taxes, backing off his plan to make permanent earlier tax cuts. Bolten rejected the idea of a tax increase. He also does not plan to delay the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

The House Republican Study Committee, meanwhile, has proposed $509 billion in cuts with half coming from healthcare for the poor. Other targets could be eliminating federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.