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.


House and Senate Pass FY 2015 Cromnibus

After the House voted 219-206 to pass H.R. 83, the so-called Cromnibus bill, the Senate voted late Saturday night 56-40 to pass the appropriations measure, thus paving the way for Congress to finally adjourn for the year. Because of the resistance in the Senate to immediately take up the bill after the House passed it on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave the chamber additional time to consider the bill and for President Obama to sign it into law by adopting H.J.Res. 131, which allows current federal spending to continue until Wednesday, December 17. In general, H.R. 83 would extend FY 2015 federal funding until September 30, 2015 for all federal agencies with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The funding for DHS would extend only through February 27th which would give the Republican House and Senate the leverage they seek to defund or scale-back the President’s executive actions which allow certain undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States and become eligible for various benefits, such as Social Security and Medicare. The $1.013 trillion in discretionary and non-discretionary spending under the bill is consistent with the Ryan/Murray budget deal which has guided Congress in setting federal spending levels. Various riders were included in the omnibus, some of which were vocally objected to by Democrats, such as one allowing political parties to raise money for party conventions and another which would scale back certain restrictions on bank swap activities under the Dodd/Frank Wall Street Reform Act. Also tucked into the bill was a bipartisan amendment to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) which would allow severely underfunded multiemployer pension plans to reduce certain benefits and which would increase Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums for such plans.

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