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 16, 2015


House May Introduce SGR Repeal Bill


House leadership may introduce legislation to repeal and replace the Medicare program’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment formula. Lawmakers have been in quiet discussions on the legislation over the past week, with talks focusing on the possibility of not paying for a significant portion of SGR repeal. A bipartisan, bicameral agreement was reached last Congress in the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014, but a failure to reach a consensus on potential offsets precluded the bill’s passage. SGR repeal would cost at least $174 billion over 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The forthcoming legislation is expected to pay for only a portion of a permanent doc fix, amounting to around $70 billion. While Democrats have argued that SGR repeal does not need to be offset, support from many congressional conservatives for an SGR solution that is only partially paid for is unlikely. However, the GOP Doctors Caucus is supportive of an only partially offset SGR repeal. Caucus Co-Chairman John Fleming (R-La.) expressed hope that the bill would pass with the help of strong Democratic support. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has weighed in on the House SGR negotiations, saying he would support permanent SGR repeal whether or not the legislation is fully paid for. Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), an author of the SGR legislation in the 113th Congress, has also praised the House efforts to move on SGR repeal and replacement. He noted that he will urge reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) during coming SGR debates. Current authorization for CHIP expires at the end of September. In a joint statement by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) the lawmakers also expressed an interest in extending CHIP through a permanent resolution to the SGR. Eight legislative days remain before the current SGR patch expires on March 31. In the event that Congress fails to act, reimbursements to Medicare physicians will see a 22 percent cut on April 1.



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