Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


CR's the Law through March 27, 2013

The President signed into law H.J. Res. 117, the continuing resolution that provides for continued federal agency funding at the $1.047 trillion BCA level through next March 27th.  The President has also been presented for his signature the bill H.R. 6433, legislation that makes technical corrections to the FDA generic drug user fee provisions to give full effect and force to that law. 

    House and Senate leaders have decided to leave until after the election all other major budget and tax decisions, including what to do about the upcoming sequestration, the debt ceiling, tax-cut extensions and further FY 2013 appropriations.  However, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers has indicated a desire to finish all FY 2013 appropriations matters during the lame-duck session. 

    If the President wins another term, a wrap-up of fiscal year spending decisions into an omnibus bill becomes a strong possibility.  On the other hand, if Mitt Romney is the victor this fall, Republicans may have incentive to put off major budget decisions until the new president is inaugurated. 

    While congressional leaders are marking time until November 13 when they return after the elections, Senators Durbin, Conrad, Warner, Bennet, Chambliss, Coburn, Crapo and Johanns continue to work on a bipartisan post-election solution to the coming budget crisis by starting out with the Simpson/Bowles budget framework that would reduce budget deficits by over $4 trillion over ten years.  A possible alternative would be for Congress to agree to a $1 trillion down-payment this year and set up a must-do process to finish up on the remainder of a ten-year budget plan next year.  In addition, another bipartisan group of Senators--Levin, Shaheen, Whitehouse, McCain, Graham and Ayotte--alerted Senate leaders to their agreement on the need for a long-term deficit reduction plan in order to avoid the upcoming sequestration which they say would led to another recession, raise unemployment above 9% and devastate defense readiness.

More Money for Health Insurance Exchanges

Senator Charles Grassley and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton told HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that HHS has conducted little oversight over the $1.9 billion in establishment grants and $249 million in innovator grants the agency has made to states for PPACA health insurance exchanges and has given little guidance on how states should use those funds.  Nonetheless, HHS subsequently announced that five states and DC have been awarded $223.7 million to help them establish their exchanges.  In addition, the HHS Secretary touted the PPACA and its provisions requiring health insurers and employers to provide Summaries of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) and a Uniform Glossary defining insurance and medical terms in standard, plain English.  Creating a baseline for the 2014 implementation of PPACA health coverage, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics released a report stating that 46.3% of Americans, 15% of the population, were uninsured as of mid-year (a decline from 48.6 million in 2010).  Republican criticism of PPACA-related actions continued in other areas as well with House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa threatening legal action if HHS does not comply with his committee’s request for documents on the Medicare Advantage quality bonus demonstration project.

CMS Initiative to Improve Nursing Care

CMS announced that seven organizations have been selected as partners in the "Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations among Nursing Facility Residents".  The organizations will partner with nursing facilities to provide enhanced on-site services and support to dual-eligible nursing home residents and to test evidence-based interventions that reduce avoidable hospitalizations.

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