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.


Congress Approves Veterans' Health Reform Legislation

President Obama said he will sign into law H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choices, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, after both the House and Senate approved the legislation before recessing until the second week of September. The legislation faltered until House Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Senate Chairman, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reached agreement over last weekend. The legislation contains $17 billion in funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs of which $5 billion will go to hire new VA staff for an expected increase in caseloads and $15 billion to pay for medical services outside the VA for veterans’ who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or who experience wait times over 30 days. Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) budget point of order was voted down 86-6 after he objected to the $12 billion in new spending not otherwise offset under the legislation ($5 billion of the bill’s total spending would be offset through other accounts within the VA committees’ jurisdiction). Also included are provisions that allow for the firing of senior executives for poor performance; and that establish a new 15-member commission to study how the VA should be restructured over the next 20 years to better deliver health care to veterans.

House Passes Resolution Authorizing Lawsuit Challenging PPACA Implementation

On a 225-201 vote the House passed H. Res. 676 which authorizes the House to bring suit against executive agency actions to delay the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) employer mandate and related penalties for non-compliance. The proposed civil action seeks injunctive relief regarding the “failure of the President” or any other Administration official “to act in a manner consistent with their duties under the Constitution and laws of the United States” with respect to the implementation of any provision of the PPACA. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said the effort is “about protecting the Constitution we swore to uphold….” while the President called it a political stunt. Whether federal courts will even rule that the House has “standing” to pursue the lawsuit is the major legal hurdle that will confront House appointed lawyers as the suit proceeds.

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