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Federal Legislative Update from AANP

Posted about 5 years ago by Michelle Rampersad

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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