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.


Republicans Call for Repeal of PPACA; Obama for Full Implementation

On Thursday the House will again take up legislation designed to fully repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), H.R. 45. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also voiced support for the repeal of “this job-killing law” and called upon President Obama to be upfront about the problems the Administration is having in implementing the law. A new “Obamacare Burden Tracker” released by House Republicans maintains that compliance with the law by individuals, insurers and providers will amount to 190 million hours. At a House Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology hearing, Republicans and testimony from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Research Foundation maintained that the PPACA’s annual assessment fee on health insurers (amounting to about $8 billion in 2014) will result in job losses of about 146,000-262,000 with the majority from small businesses. In another hit to the law’s implementation, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority neutral” tax reform and FY 2014-2023 spending levels. Absent a bicameral budget agreement, Republicans and Democrats will continue to wrangle over the extent to which to extend the effects of sequestration on defense and non-defense spending.

Notice to Employees about Exchanges Required

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance to employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, whether or not they sponsor a health plan, of their duty under the PPACA to inform current and new employees of the existence of the new PPACA Marketplaces. The employer notice must also include a statement that if the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Marketplace, the employee may lose the employer contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer and that all or a portion of such contribution may be excludable from income for Federal income tax purposes. The DOL also released a model notice employers can use to inform terminating employees of their COBRA continuation rights.

Notice to Individual Market Participants

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) released model language that health insurers can use to inform existing policyholders in the individual market of their option to alternatively enroll under PPACA Marketplaces and of their potential eligibility for premium assistance. Insurers were cautioned not to give renewal notices to selective groups of policyholders.

PCORI Announces Funding for New Projects

The PPACA’s Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has approved funding totaling $88.6 million over three years for 51 new projects in the institute’s second cycle of primary research funding. The projects approved include: studies of how to best care for people with kidney disease, certain cancers, obesity, asthma, diabetes and various mental health conditions; and finding means to support patient decision-making, reduce specific health disparities and improve health care delivery systems.

Comments Due on Sunshine Act

CMS gave notice of its interest in receiving comments on the potential burdens that drug and device manufacturers may incur in publicly disclosing payments made to physicians under the National Physician Payment Transparency Program established under section 6002 of the PPACA (the “Sunshine Act”).

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