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.


Senate Appropriations Advances LHHS Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 to pass S. 3295, FY 2013 appropriations for the departments of Labor, HHS and Education.  The committee approved an increase of $2.609 billion in discretionary funding to $71 billion for HHS as follows: $ 3.156 billion for CMS; $1.567 billion for community health centers; $100 million for NIH; $55 million for the CDC; $30 million for the Ryan White AIDS Drug Assistance Program; $54 million in grants for evidence-based public health interventions; and $610 million for health care fraud and abuse control activities.  The party-line vote reflected the failed Republican attempts to defund the PPACA--a Shelby amendment to freeze new hiring at HHS; a Johnson amendment to repeal funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund; and a Hoeven amendment to prohibit HHS from using money from the prevention fund to promote the PPACA.  It might be noted that appropriations for the new FDA user fee programs for generics and biologics remain to be determined pending the outcome of the House/Senate conference on the user fee legislation, H.R. 5651 and S. 3187.

The Supreme Court is expected to release its decision on the PPACA within the next two weeks.  Currently,  opinions are scheduled to be released  on Monday, June 18 and Monday, June 25. The Court does not announce which opinions will be released on which days. Opinions are always released at 10 a.m. Because of the large amount of opinions remaining, it is possible the Court could add additional dates for opinions. 

GOP Begins Positioning on Possible Repeal of Obamacare

While congressional Republican leaders have generally not been specific on how they would react legislatively to any decision by the Supreme Court to repeal some or all of the PPACA, other than to repeal the entire law, presidential candidate Mitt Romney said his top priority is to cover the uninsured by transforming the health care system to resemble a consumer market operating on free-market principles, rather than as a government-managed utility.  He said he would send federal Medicaid funds to the states and make them responsible for covering the uninsured.  He also said he would preserve the PPACA prohibition on pre-existing conditions for those who have health insurance.  Several health insurers also announced they would keep the PPACA preventive care and dependent coverage to age 26, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision.  Republicans continue their assault on the health reform law (see appropriations vote above) with Rep. Charles Boustany asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for information on the $123 million in Innovation Challenge grants awarded by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) which are intended to improve the quality of care.

PPACA Grants for Home Services

CMS announced that four states will receive $295.6 million in “Balancing Incentive Program” grants to provide improved access to home and community-based services under Medicaid.

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