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.


Appropriations Matters

he co-chairs of the Special Committee formed under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the BCA, P.L. 112-25), Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, are considering candidates for executive director in order to get the committee up and running by the September 16th starting date required under the new law.  The committee will be looking for ideas to meet their $1.2 trillion 10-year deficit reduction mandate.  In this connection, the Office of Management and Budget issued an order to all federal agencies to come up with FY 2013 spending plans which would result in at least 5% in spending reductions over FY 2012 levels.  Republicans will undoubtedly be looking for scaled-back spending to implement the PPACA, particularly given the lack of specific appropriations for implementation of a “federal” health insurance exchange fallback in the event one or more states refuse to set up an exchange.  Apparently the OMB order did not exclude agencies from proposing changes to major entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.  Rep. Fred Upton, a Special Committee member, said that current Medicare beneficiaries should not suffer cutbacks.  Given the nation’s high unemployment, the President announced several job creation plans, including expanded loans from HHS and the DOA to rural hospitals and doctors to adopt health IT technologies and guidance on expanding eligibility under the National Health Services Corps loan repayment program to help recruit doctors to rural areas.

Tri-Agency Rule on Health Plan Summaries

The departments of Treasury, Labor and HHS issued proposed regulations requiring health insurers to provide potential purchasers detailed summaries of premiums, covered benefits, deductibles, copays and other information on each plan they offer.  Summaries must include specific examples of costs and coverage for child birth, breast cancer and diabetes.  Comments are due within 60 days.  An outstanding issue is whether insurance coverage under so-called “association health plans” would be subject to this rule and other PPACA mandates.  The PPACA mandated “multi-state” plans, two of which must be offered in each state health insurance exchange, would presumably be subject to this rule as well.

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