OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Both parties back Medicare cuts

Read The Hill’s coverage here.

Advocates weigh in: AARP said Thursday that the supercommittee shouldn’t raise the Medicare eligibility age — an idea President Obama proposed in previous deficit talks but reportedly was not a part of the supercommittee Democrats’ pitch.

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“In short, health care access would go down, and total U.S. health costs would go up. We therefore strongly urge you to reject ANY proposal to increase the age of eligibility for Medicare,” AARP and 20 other advocacy groups said in a letter to lawmakers.

Singles subsidies: House Republicans charged Thursday that the healthcare law penalizes families. A glitch in the law makes it easier for single people to get subsidies when their employer’s healthcare plan is unaffordable, and a report from the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said roughly half of the people who get insurance subsidies will be unmarried with no children. According to committee Chairman Darrell Issa (D-Calif.), the healthcare law will therefore “introduce a significant new marriage penalty into the tax code.”

Republicans unveiled the report during a hearing Thursday and entered it into the public record. The top Democrat on the Oversight Health panel, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), asked that the record specify that it's a "partisan staff report" with no input from committee Democrats.

Healthwatch’s Julian Pecquet has all the details.

CLASS support: Disability advocates oppose repealing the CLASS Act, the long-term-care program that HHS recently abandoned. The American Association of People with Disabilities said it opposes repeal and wants the Obama administration to keep working on the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.

“The CLASS program would make long-term care insurance accessible,” the group said in a statement. “Without it, millions of Americans will be unable to afford care they need.”

SGR push: The American Medical Association got some help in its aggressive campaign to get the supercommittee to repeal Medicare’s payment formula for doctors. Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said Thursday that the deficit panel should permanently scrap the sustainable growth rate formula. Healthwatch’s Sam Baker has more.

Promising premiums: Seniors' monthly Medicare premiums will be $99.90 in 2012, $6.70 less than previously projected and just $3.50 more than the premium paid this year by most beneficiaries, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday. Read the Healthwatch post.

MLR: Two tiny health insurance companies are exiting Florida's individual market because of Democrats' healthcare law, the state's insurance department announced Thursday in an effort to bolster its request for a waiver.

Florida has asked for a waiver from the medical loss ratio requirement that requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care or give customers rebates. Several consumer advocacy groups argued Thursday that the state doesn't need such a waiver.

Healthwatch has more.

Medicaid is not cheap: The Kaiser Family Foundation released its annual 50-state Medicaid survey Thursday. The upshot: Enhanced federal funds are expiring, leaving states on the hook for a much bigger share of their Medicaid programs, while their budgets are strapped and Medicaid enrollment remains high. Healthwatch has more.

Friday’s agenda

The Alliance for Health Reform holds a briefing on Medicaid managed care and its ability to control costs.

Families USA and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies are sponsoring a discussion about how potential cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would affect minorities.


State by state

Oregon's healthcare overhaul seeks to create "coordinated care organizations" as the front door for patients.

The Massachusetts healthcare reform law's ties to the federal overhaul get trotted out on the presidential campaign trail; in a new twist, Gov. Deval Patrick is hailing the state law as he stumps for President Obama.


Fraud fight

The vice president of a Florida oxygen and respiratory therapy company was sentenced to three years in federal prison for lying about whether patients qualified for Medicare-reimbursed oxygen.


Lobbying registrations

McDonald & Harden / Glenbeigh Hospital/Cleveland Clinic (appropriations for alcohol & drug treatment)

McDermott Will & Emery / Scottsdale Healthcare

Jonathan Sheiner / Ventus Medical (reimbursement for medical devices)

Jonathan Sheiner / National Association of Long Term Hospitals

McDermott Will & Emery / Moses Cone Health System

ViroPharma Incorporated (self-registration)

McDermott Will & Emery / Clearent (healthcare and biological science)


Reading list

Employers are battling insurers for the right to share more cost information with workers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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Insurance companies should follow UnitedHealth's example and make paperwork about rate hikes public, the New York Daily News editorializes.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

House votes to scale back healthcare law eligibility

Wisconsin 17th state to request waiver from healthcare reform law


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com / 202-628-8527

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351


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