Congressional Action

House approves continuing resolution to withold ACA funding

Posted on March 7, 2013

The US House of Representatives approved a continuing resolution (CR) yesterday that would deny necessary funding for several agencies to implement their respective portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill, H.R. 933, was introduced on Monday by Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). Several specific funding denials include:

  • $949 million to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to aid in paying for the federal insurance exchanges.
  • $29 million to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control.
  • Funds requested by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for ACA tax provisions.

267 Members voted in favor of the bill.

Continue Reading "House approves continuing resolution to withold ACA funding" »

Senators release ideas to combat Medicare/Medicaid waste, fraud, and abuse

Posted on February 4, 2013

Last week, six current and former members of the Senate Finance Committee, led by Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), released a report outlining recommendations from stakeholders in the health care community regarding potential opportunities to improve federal efforts to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The other four report authors include Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Tom Carper (D-Del.). Last May, the bipartisan group of lawmakers invited stakeholders to submit white papers offering recommendations and innovative solutions to improve program integrity efforts, strengthen payment reforms, and enhance fraud and abuse enforcement efforts. The resulting report highlights a number of submitted proposals and recommendations.

Continue Reading "Senators release ideas to combat Medicare/Medicaid waste, fraud, and abuse" »

A Summary of the Health-Related Provisions of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8)

Posted on January 8, 2013

Both the Senate and the House passed H.R.8 (89-8 and 257-167, respectively), the American Taxpayer Relief Act, on January 1, 2013. President Barack Obama signed the Act into law on January 3, 2013. The measure extends Bush-era income and other tax cuts for individuals and families making up to $400,000 and $450,000 respectively. For individuals and families above this income threshold, the bill increases taxes from 35% to 39.6%. H.R. 8 also postpones…

Continue Reading "A Summary of the Health-Related Provisions of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8)" »

Representative Issa subpoenas Obama administration for Medicare Advantage documents

Posted on October 23, 2012

Darrell Issa, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman, subpoenaed the Obama administration on Monday for documents that he believes will reveal illegal actions taken by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with respect to Medicare. Issa threatened to issue the subpoena in a letter he wrote last week. In response, the HHS delivered 1,300 pages to Issa before the Thursday 5:00 p.m. deadline. Arguing that the information delivered by HHS did not address his request, Issa went forward with the subpoena on Monday. Issa requested information regarding the size of demonstration programs, a rationale for the Medicare Advantage bonus payments, and information regarding the requirement that all demonstration projects receive a statistical evaluation.

Continue Reading "Representative Issa subpoenas Obama administration for Medicare Advantage documents" »

Measure to repeal tax on premiums garners support in the House

Posted on September 24, 2012

Representative Charles W. Boustany’s H.R. 1370, a measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) tax on health insurance premiums, has garnered enough co-sponsors to pass through the House chamber. The elimination of this tax, which is estimated to cost around $87 billion over 10 years, is supported by insurers and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The tax applies to group and individual plans but exempts self-insured entities. According to STOP The HIT, a coalition of associations working to repeal the tax, H.R. 1370 now has 221 co-sponsors.

Continue Reading "Measure to repeal tax on premiums garners support in the House" »

House bill on ACA’s MLR requirement passes Energy and Commerce Committee

Posted on September 20, 2012

H.R. 1206, sponsored by Representatives Mike Rogers and John Barrow, alters the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) medical loss ratio (MLR) by excluding insurance brokers’ fees from counting as administrative costs under the ACA provision. MLR mandates that insurers spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care as opposed to administrative costs or profits. Nearly 13 million consumers recently received over one billion dollars in rebates on their health insurance premiums due to the MLR standard.

Today, the Committee voted 26-14 to pass the bill. Representative John Barrow was the only Democrat to support it.

Continue Reading "House bill on ACA’s MLR requirement passes Energy and Commerce Committee" »

House Republicans probe IRS regarding federal exchange tax credits

Posted on August 22, 2012

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and several other Republican colleagues sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner, Douglas Shulman, asking him to explain his reasoning for offering tax credits through federal exchanges. In the letter, House Republicans argue that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not authorize the IRS to offer the credits.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus argued that it was a drafting error to only permit state-run insurance exchanges to offer the tax credits.

Continue Reading "House Republicans probe IRS regarding federal exchange tax credits" »

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee holds hearing on how to reform Medicare physician payment system

Posted on July 30, 2012

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee held a a hearing at 1o a.m. on July 24, 2012 in the Longworth House Office Building to explore physician organization efforts to promote high quality patient care. The goal of the hearing was to inform Subcommittee members regarding how to reform the Medicare physician payment system. The Subcommittee heard from organizations representing the physicians at the forefront of patient care.

Physicians told the House panel that…

Continue Reading "House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee holds hearing on how to reform Medicare physician payment system" »

House Appropriations Committee seeks to cut all AHRQ and PCOR funding

Posted on July 18, 2012

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee posted the proposed fiscal year 2013 spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies. The bill effectively terminates the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Section 223) by cutting its budget entirely. This is the first such attack on AHRQ funding in almost 20 years.

AHRQ funds research and programs at local universities, hospitals, and health departments that improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care. The bill also cuts funding for patient-centered outcomes research (Section 217). The PCOR funding prohibition would extend to any federal agency in the subcommittee’s jurisdiction.

Continue Reading "House Appropriations Committee seeks to cut all AHRQ and PCOR funding" »

Business leaders say ACA will raise costs at House Committee on Oversight and Government hearing

Posted on July 12, 2012

At a House Committee on Oversight and Government hearing held on July 10, business leaders testified that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will lead to higher health care costs for employers and cause businesses to reduce their hiring.

Jamie Richardson, a vice president with White Castle System Inc., said…

Continue Reading "Business leaders say ACA will raise costs at House Committee on Oversight and Government hearing" »