Supercommittee’s task makes healthcare advocates nervous


Healthcare interests are already making their pitches to the 12-member panel tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving. Because healthcare was largely spared in the debt-ceiling deal and because the supercommittee’s failure to perform its task would trigger an automatic Medicare cut, just about every sector of the health industry is at least a little bit scared of this process.

Some, of course, would benefit from the supercommittee’s failure — Medicaid would be protected from the automatic cuts triggered if the panel can’t reach an agreement. Others are far more afraid of the automatic 2 percent cut to Medicare. But no one wants to be cut, and everyone is at risk somehow.

Aside from the letters and other advocacy efforts that are likely to keep pouring in this week, the Alliance for Healthcare Reform will hold a briefing Monday on Capitol Hill to discuss what deficit reduction means for healthcare. Clinton administration healthcare adviser Chris Jennings and Bush adviser Gail Wilensky are among the speakers.

Also on the Hill, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  MORE (R-Utah) and other lawmakers will join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at a press conference Wednesday to criticize the healthcare law’s employer mandate.

The Energy and Commerce health subcommittee has scheduled a hearing Thursday on the regulations issued under healthcare reform.

Off the Hill, America’s Health Insurance Plans will keep folks busy with a full week of conferences. AHIP’s Medicare conference runs Monday and Tuesday, followed by a Medicaid conference Wednesday and Thursday, and an exchanges conference Thursday and Friday.

Speakers over the course of the three events include Health and Human Services’s Jonathan Blum and Melanie Bella, who leads the newly created office for dual-eligible beneficiaries, as well as a panoply of senior insurance industry executives. HHS’s Tim Hill, who took over a big part of Joel Ario’s portfolio implementing health exchanges, is scheduled to speak Friday.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is holding its annual conference this week in Washington. “Health IT Week” begins Tuesday with a press conference at the Capitol.