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.


Appropriators Stress Over Lack of Budget/Spending Deal

After another week of budget conference committee meetings, House appropriators expressed their angst over the lack of agreement on the level of so-called 302(a) spending totals for FY 2014-15 being negotiated between the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA). Both House and Senate appropriators have been calling for the conference committee to give them their discretionary spending directives by December 2nd, even before the conference deadline of December 13th is reached, in order to get a jump on appropriation committee/subcommittee deliberations that are likely to lead to an omnibus spending bill to be taken up before year end. Whether or not the conference leaders will agree to entitlement spending reductions as possible offsets for sequestration reductions remains to be seen. To help the conferees in this regard, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report, “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014-2023,” that includes possible deficit-reduction Medicare/Medicaid/Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) savings, including Medigap restrictions, Parts B/D premium increases and minimum drug manufacturer rebates, Medicaid spending caps and introducing a “public” option under PPACA exchanges.

House Passes Upton Bill to Assist Individuals Receiving Policy Cancellations

As a rebuff to the President’s early statement that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it”, the House passed H.R. 3351, the Keep Your Health Plan Act, by a vote of 261 to 157 with 39 Democrats joining nearly all Republicans to send the bill to the Senate. However, with the President’s action to have the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issue an administrative “fix” for the 5+ million individuals receiving health policy cancellations from their insurers (see below), it remains to be seen whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will move forward on a senate version, such as S. 1642 proposed by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). House Democrat leaders failed in their move to substitute a legislative provision that would codify the HHS administrative fix. The House bill, which the President said he would veto, would allow health insurers to offer non-PPACA compliant plans to any person through the individual marketplace, but not inside any health exchange. The Landrieu bill would restrict the purchase of such policies to only those who otherwise would lose coverage under the PPACA rules.

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