Not much happening on Capitol Hill today — or this week — where health policy is concerned.
The House overwhelmingly approved a six-month Medicare "doc fix" last week, kicking the can down the road until after the midterm elections. Expect physician groups to continue to lobby for a permanent solution to the Sustainable Growth Rate, but even with President Barack Obama calling for action Congress is unlikely to take up this political hot potato again until it really has to.
States and Medicaid advocates will also continue to lobby lawmakers for a six-month extension of enhanced Medicaid payments to states (the so-called FMAP); the provision was part of the tax extenders bill that died in the Senate on Thursday. But here again, since the extra funds only run out at the end of the year lawmakers don't have much incentive to make the tough choices — finding offsets or adding to the ballooning deficit — needed to get the extension passed before the July (or even August) recess.
Regulators are expected to issue a number of rules this week, particularly on Wednesday, the last day of the month. On the horizon: regulations for Hospital Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Centers, Civil Money Penalty Reduction for Self-Reporting, State Flexibility for Medicaid Benefit Packages, Electronic Health Records' “Meaningful Use” and Durable Medical Equipment Competitive bid single payment amounts.
Also Wednesday, the Medicare Trustees Report is due for release — the first incorporating the new healthcare reform law.
On Thursday, July 1, the Department of Health and Human Services launches its new website to help people compare insurance options. That's also the date for the hearing on the Obama administration’s motion to dismiss Virginia’s lawsuit challenging the federal healthcare reform law.
In addition, more than 100 pain management physicians are in town all week to lobby for a bill creating a nationwide monitoring program for controlled substances. The bill allows states to exchange information through a prescription monitoring program (PDMP), thus preventing "doctor shopping" and abuse of prescription drugs.
The bill, known as NASPER, passed in 2005 but the doctors say less than 10 percent of the funding provided for in the bill was ever appropriated. With growing state and federal fiscal woes, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) argues that the bill would pay for itself in five years through savings to Medicaid and Medicare.
They're pushing new NASPER legislation providing reauthorization and funding of the NASPER program with an additional funding of $55 million.