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.


Upcoming Congressional Agenda

The House and Senate will return the week of April 28th to begin the process of finalizing the 302(b) subcommittee allocations for the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations process and the House is expected to continue with its close scrutiny of the actions surrounding the health reform law. The defeat in the House before the recess of H.R. 4144, the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014, will likely result in a new initiative to again take up the bill under a rule requiring only a majority vote for passage. A resolution in the House of the fate of the Senate’s temporary extension of unemployment benefits is another issue that is tied to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) legislation (the Senate used the House-passed bill, H.R. 3979, as a vehicle to extend unemployment benefits for five months).

CBO Increases Latest Cost Estimate of Long-Term Medicare SGR Reform

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new estimate of bipartisan legislation that would replace the current Medicare physician payment sustainable growth rate (SGR) system with one based more on quality. CBO said that it would cost $124 billion over 2015-2024 which represents an increase of about $7.5 billion over the previous estimate for long-term reform of the system. Because the temporary patch which was signed into law would increase physician payments by 0.5% through calendar year (CY) 2014 and freeze them until April 1, 2015, Congress will not need to address reform legislation until early next year, but Senator Wyden (D-OR), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, continues to push for action on a permanent fix during this Congress.

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