By Healthwatch staff - 03/31/11 10:25 PM EDT
Details, details: Readers who want/need to delve deeper into the regulation can click on the administration fact sheets below.
How it played:
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Don Berwick wrote more about ACOs on the White House blog.
Bipartisan duo battles administration's cuts to children's hospitals: Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) are teaming up to prevent the Obama administration's proposed cuts to children's teaching hospitals, The Hill has learned. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has the scoop.
Early retiree reinsurance pool running out: Federal reimbursement for the reform law's early retiree insurance pool is quickly coming to an end, CMS said on Thursday. Due to high demand, the agency won't accept applications after May 5 because officials think they'll have enough requests by then to drain the $5 billion fund. According to a new report, the federal government has already doled out $1.8 billion to 1,300 organizations.
The funds were scheduled to run dry by 2014 or after the law's $5 billion was all spent — whichever came first. An HHS official said the early run on funding for the program is proof of its success. Asked if the administration would ask for more money, the official demurred: “That’s the amount that Congress appropriated."
Panel votes to eliminate law's long-term spending: Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee voted to block the administration from using money to implement portions of healthcare reform — including new state insurance exchanges — without going through Congress first. Not surprisingly, the votes were all along party lines. Check out the Healthwatch story.
Newt: Save NIH: The former House Speaker, addressing the GOP Congressional Health Care Caucus on Thursday, said Republicans are wrong to cut funding for the National Institutes of Health. House Republicans cut $1 billion from the agency's $31 billion budget in a long-term spending bill they approved last month.
Newt's reform prescriptions: "Really bold" tort reform and significantly reducing Medicare/Medicaid fraud would produce enough savings "to cover the uninsured," Gingrich said Thursday afternoon. Gingrich, a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2012, predicted healthcare reform will be repealed by April 2013.
26 states get a date: The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a healthcare reform challenge from 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business on June 8. The states and NFIB, which successfully challenged the law in a Florida federal court in January, were denied their request to have the entire 11th Circuit hear the Obama administration's appeal. Both sides will get one hour to plead their case; the administration's opening brief is due on Monday.
The cost of reform: Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and John Cornyn (Texas) released a new report from the CMS actuary that shows subsidies for purchasing insurance on new state-run exchanges can skyrocket. The CMS actuary expects the subsidies will cost $593 billion through 2021, but the report says that can go up to $797 billion if 50 percent of employers decide to drop health coverage.
Repeal competitive bidding, groups say: Two dozen consumer and patient advocacy groups signed onto a letter backing the repeal of a Medicare competitive bidding program for home medical equipment and services. Pennsylvania Reps. Jason Altmire (D) and Glenn Thompson (R) have again introduced legislation to eliminate the program, which the groups say will jack up prices and lower quality.
Better LGBT outreach needed: Researchers need to better consciously engage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in health studies because of an existing dearth of health data on the populations, according to a new Institute of Medicine report.
No relief for home healthcare agencies: The groups were hoping for relief from a new requirement to have face-to-face encounters, but it's not coming. CMS announced on Thursday that home healthcare agencies and hospices must comply with face-to-face encounter requirements as of Friday.
Grilling AARP: Two days after Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee released a report questioning AARP's motives for backing healthcare reform, the panel is hauling in the group's top executive on Friday. The Ways and Means report said AARP's profits will jump by $1 billion over 10 years as a result of the year-old health law.
High-risk under high scrutiny: Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee will again investigate part of the healthcare reform law. This time they’re setting their sights on high-risk pools, which have been plagued by low participation. Just 12,000 out of the eligible millions have enrolled. Check out the background memo.
Sebelius on the Hill: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be testifying on Capitol Hill Friday morning. She'll appear before the House Appropriations Health subpanel.
Getting the exchanges right: America's Health Insurance Plans is hosting a panel on how to build state-run health insurance exchanges under the healthcare reform law. Scheduled to attend: the National Association of Health Underwriters, the American Osteopathic Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) will look to cut 160,000 from Medicaid rolls, The Arizona Republic reports.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) added anti-abortion language into a bill to create a state health insurance exchange, The Washington Post writes.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is downplaying a report that shows abuse of the state's uncompensated care pool, the Boston Herald reports.