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.


President Defends PPACA in SOTU but Will Consider "Improvements"

In last Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama said “Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law….What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition….So instead of refighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward.”  However, he did indicate a willingness to consider medical malpractice reform legislation and a repeal of IRS Form 1099 reporting requirements.  In the Republican response to the President’s speech, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said “What we already know about the President’s health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have….Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees.  Businesses and unions from around the country are asking the Obama administration for waivers from the mandates.  The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses.  We agree, and we think his health care law would be a great place to start….

Last week, House Republicans voted for a full repeal of this law, as we pledged to do, and we will work to replace it with fiscally responsible, patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage.”  In his remarks, the President also indicated his forthcoming budget recommendations will include a five-year freeze at current levels of non-security-related domestic spending while advocating for additional spending on biomedical research and several other domestic initiatives.  Later in the week he the President indicated that “Health reform is part of deficit reform….” 

In contrast to the President’s remarks, Rep. Ryan said “We hold to a couple of simple convictions: Endless borrowing is not a strategy.  Spending cuts have to come first.  Our nation is approaching a tipping point.  We are at a moment where, if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century.”  In this regard, following the earlier Republican inspired action to reduce House member and committee funding, the House voted 256 to 165 to pass H. Res. 38 which requires the Chair of the House Committee on the Budget to include in the Congressional Record the contemplated allocation for the Committee on Appropriations for the remainder of FY 2011 that assumes non-security spending at FY 2008 levels or less.  The resolution does not define “non-security” spending.  The Appropriations Committee is expected to detail the spending cuts for the remainder of the year in the next several weeks with a House vote to follow.  The House also passed H.R. 359, legislation to rescind the federal financing of presidential campaigns.  The budget debate will heat up even more with the release of a CBO projection that the 2011 deficit will reach nearly $1.5 trillion.  The Secretary of the Treasury also announced new measures to delay the date when the federal government reaches the current debt limit (now likely to be breached as early as March 31, thus forcing a debt increase vote before then).

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