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.


Budget Issues

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has upped the ante in securing Senate Republican votes in favor of increasing the debt limit.  He has firmed up his insistence that the vote be accompanied by an agreement with the President and Senate Democrats providing for a long-term deficit reduction plan, including major reforms leading to reduced spending for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. 

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad also said he will delay a vote in his committee on any FY 2012 budget resolution, inasmuch as the spending goals for the coming fiscal year will likely be resolved in the spending/debt ceiling negotiations being conducted by Vice President Biden.  In addition to Biden, the group includes Senators Inouye, Baucus, and Kyl and Reps. Van Hollen, Clyburn and Cantor.  The extent of the hurdle Senator Conrad has in reaching even an agreement among Democrats is demonstrated by Senator Bernie Sanders’ statement that he will not support any budget deal unless it requires high income earners to “pay their fair share of taxes.” 

Acknowledging the difficulty of coming to a bipartisan deficit reduction plan in the Senate outside of the Biden talks, Senator Tom Coburn has pulled out of the so-called Gang of Six negotiations, now being headed by Senators Conrad, Durbin, Warner, Chambliss and Crapo.     
Treasury Secretary Geithner remains adamant that the debt limit be raised by August 2nd with or without a budget deal.  Despite the lack of a Senate Budget Committee plan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may still hold a vote on the House-passed budget which includes the unpopular Medicare “premium support” reform still strongly supported by Chairman Paul Ryan

The Democrat-led Joint Economic Committee released a report with state-by-state results of the Ryan plan which is purported to double out-of-pocket spending for Medicare beneficiaries in 2022.  Senator Reid also said any agreement resulting from the Biden talks will be taken up in the Senate as a budget resolution in order to pass the plan with a majority vote, rather than the 60 votes otherwise needed to avoid a stalemate.

Appropriations and Reauthorization Health Issues
The House returns this week to take up H.R. 1216, legislation to amend the Public Health Service Act to convert funding for graduate medical education in qualified teaching health centers from direct appropriations to an authorization of appropriations.  Rep. Joe Pitts and Senator Sherrod Brown also said they are working to pass their bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1852 and S. 958, which would reauthorize the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Program for 56 hospitals training more than 5,000 residents annually.  In addition, 162 House Democrats urged President Obama to push for the House to take up and pass reauthorization of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program which includes an 80% Health Coverage Tax Credit for displaced workers.  At a Senate HELP Committee hearing on the reauthorization of the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act, Senator Richard Burr said that the emergency use process is too slow in the face of serious threats, particularly for certain medical products and vaccines that are not approved by the FDA.

May 23, 2011: | Page 1 Page 2 Page 3



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