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 - JUNE 30, 2014


Congress to Return the Week of July 7th


As members of Congress head to their 4th of July parades they left unresolved bi-chamber agreements on both important appropriations matters and the competing bills intended to rectify the long waiting times and other problems plaguing the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. The House and Senate conferees on the two versions of H.R. 3230, the “Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014” do not appear to have reached agreement on a means to pay for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated cost of the legislation, between $44 and $50 billion per year, or to forgo seeking an offset and passing off the cost as “emergency spending”. As to appropriations, the Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) may attempt to resuscitate the “minibus” consisting of the fiscal year (FY) 2015 Agriculture/Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Commerce/Justice/Science and Transportation/House and Urban Development (HUD) appropriations bills; although she said that she may attempt to bring to the Senate floor another combination of bills or possibly single bills such as the Military-Construction/VA bill already approved by the House. In any event it appears that the always controversial Labor/Health and Human Services (HHS)/Education appropriations bill will be left to be taken up by means of a year-end omnibus bill or continuing resolution (CR) despite the intent of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) to have the House complete all twelve appropriations bills by the August recess. The House approved several health-related bills last week, including “Combating Autism” reauthorization legislation (H.R. 4631), and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved a similar autism reauthorization measure (S. 2449). The House also sent to the Senate the following bills: H.R. 4080, the Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act; H.R. 3548, the Improving Trauma Care Act of 2014; H.R. 1281, the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act; and H.R. 1098, the Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act. The intent of Congress to seek a means to overhaul future Medicare post-acute care payments was also demonstrated when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a discussion draft of bipartisan legislation, the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care (PAC) Transformation Act of 2014, which they said would standardize Medicare data so as to compare quality across PAC settings; improve hospital and PAC discharge planning; and, use such information to help reform PAC payments (via site neutral or bundled payments or some other reform) while ensuring continued beneficiary access to the most appropriate setting of care.



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