POLICY BRIEFINGS


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.


THIS WEEK'S BRIEFING - MARCH 3, 2014


Budget Debate to Ensue


On Tuesday, March 4th the President will release his budget recommendations for fiscal year (FY) 2015-2024 and several committees of jurisdiction will hold hearings this week to take measure of whether or not the Administration’s priorities will be considered this budget season. With the President recommending increased “investment” for domestic programs while backing off his recommendations made last year to reduce Social Security and other federal cost of living adjustments (COLAs), the House is likely to call most of his recommendations “dead on arrival”. Republican skirmishing over veterans’ legislation in the Senate last week, which delayed final consideration, is a presage of a Republican wish list to find domestic spending offsets for military and other spending priorities. Republicans in the House and Senate appear to be more inclined to push for a reconciliation bill than do Democrat leaders. Amid the budget debate, the House and Senate leaders are under pressure to come up with a compromise on the means to offset the cost of reforming the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment reform, H.R. 4015 and S. 2000, that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now says would cost $138.4 billion in the FY 2014-2024 11-year period.


Health-Related Legislative Actions


Last week the House passed H.R. 899, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act, legislation that: amends the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) to, among other things, require federal agencies to consult with private corporations before proposing any new rules and allow points of order against rules that increase the direct cost of private sector mandates (e.g. those included under the PPACA); and amends the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to require CBO, at the request of a committee Chairman or Ranking Member, to conduct analyses into the direct cost of promulgated rules on state, local, and tribal governments. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health voted to send to the full committee the following bills: H.R. 3548, the Improving Trauma Care Act of 2013; H.R. 1281, the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2013; H.R. 1528, the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013; and H.R. 4080, the Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act. The approval in the Senate HELP Committee of Vivek Murthy as the next Surgeon General will allow Democrats to move his nomination to a vote in the full Senate, pending a fight with Senator Rand Paul who has placed a hold on his nomination. Of note, the longest-serving member of congress, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), announced that this term will be his last, thus ending his tour-de-force in health legislation. Also, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced that the House will take up H.R. 4118, the Suspending the Individual Mandate Penalty Law Equals Fairness Act, on Wednesday or Thursday.



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