Federal Legislative Update from AANP
|April 22, 2013|
New Deficit Plans Include More Health Care Cuts An updated bipartisan deficit reduction plan released April 19 by the co-chairs of a 2010 fiscal commission proposes an array of policies to reduce health care spending by $585 billion over 10 years to help achieve an additional $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction. Crafted by former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, “A Bipartisan Path Forward to Securing America’s Future” includes changes in Medicare policy to reform cost-sharing requirements, increase income-related premiums, restructure fee-for-service payments, and gradually raise the age of Medicare eligibility while allowing people to buy in to Medicare starting at age 65.
The recommendations in the Simpson-Bowles report aim to “reform the Medicare payment system to begin to move away from fee-for-service and reward high-quality, low-cost care and overhaul cost-sharing rules so that beneficiaries can play a greater role in providing cost-control while receiving new protection for catastrophic costs.”
Significant changes to Medicare are also part of another bipartisan deficit cutting plan released April 18 by a group of former Senate leaders. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s proposal would reduce Medicare spending by roughly $300 billion over 10 years and includes replacing the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health insurance plans in the health care reform law with a limit on the income-tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health benefits.
Senate Leader Foresees Exchange Enrollment "Train Wreck" One of the Senate Democrats responsible for drafting the Affordable Care Act warned the Obama administration last week that he is concerned about a “huge train wreck coming down” if the public doesn’t get more information soon about enrolling in new insurance marketplaces.
At an April 17 hearing on the HHS budget for fiscal year 2014, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) told Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the administration’s outreach efforts have been inadequate, complaining that families and businesses “have no idea what to do, what to expect” from the law. He also chastised the White House and HHS for not providing details of its outreach efforts, telling Secretary Sebelius, "We need data. You never give me any data. You give me concepts, frankly."
Sebelius defended the administration’s outreach efforts, including providing “navigators” to help guide consumers through the exchanges prior to the October 1 opening of enrollment. The Secretary assured the panel that officials would be in the states this summer to provide people with information about the law, adding that HHS and the Small Business Administration would conduct enrollment webinars and seminars through the summer.
Senate Republicans Criticize HHS Health IT Implementation Efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement health information technology incentives in the 2009 stimulus bill are resulting in higher health care costs and potential waste and abuse, according to a group of Senate Republicans who want the administration to explain its strategy. Senators John Thune (R-SD), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) released a white paper April 16 that questioned whether HHS is spending $35 billion in taxpayer dollars inefficiently and whether incentive payments are being made without evidence that the providers can achieve "meaningful use."
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius responded that senators might be reacting prematurely, pointing out to members of the Senate Finance Committee that Stage 2 requirements for “meaningful use” of health IT hasn’t been implemented yet. Senator Thune said that his biggest concern is the lack of a clear pathway to full adoption of “meaningful use” standards in which records should be able to communicate between health systems or physicians. That kind of interoperability “isn’t possible” on the path the administration is currently on, he said.
As always, your federal team is here to answer your questions. Please feel free to contact any of us at FederalPolicy@aanp.org.
Federal Policy Team members: MaryAnne Sapio, VP Federal Government Affairs Debra Swan, Associate VP Federal Government Affairs Jan Towers, Sr. Policy Advisor Dave Mason, Federal Consultant
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