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 - SEPTEMBER 12, 2011


Appropriations Issues


The Senate Appropriations Committee met and approved the FY 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies spending bill, thus clearing this measure for Senate consideration.  The committee provided the FDA with $2.497 billion which amounts to about the same level of spending as for FY 2011.  In contrast, the House passed H.R. 2112 with only $2.1 billion going to FDA operations.  It appears unlikely this bill will be enacted before the October 1st beginning of the new fiscal year.  Republican and Democrat congressional leadership appear to have agreed to pass a short-term continuing resolution, CR, to enable Congress to consider several other individual appropriations bills or wrap up FY 2012 spending under a long-term omnibus spending bill.  The CR is likely to continue through November 23rd, the date when the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is to make their recommendations on deficit reduction.

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Meets

The deficit reduction “super committee” met last week for the first time and co-chairs Rep. Jeb Hensarling and Senator Patty Murray agreed to alternate the chairman’s gavel from meeting to meeting.  A hearing is scheduled for September 13 to hear the CBO director on ‘the History and Drivers of Our Nation’s Debt and Its Threats.”  Another key staffer was named to assist the committee; Sarah Kuehl, a senior Senate Budget Committee analyst for the Democrats, joins COS Mark Prater as his deputy.  Earlier, Assistant House Minority Leader James Clyburn argued that he will promote “jobs, cuts and revenue” in his role as one of the twelve joint committee members.  However, Jeb Hensarling said that “deficit reduction and a path to fiscal sustainability are themselves a jobs program.”  Rep. Clyburn also said the committee does not have the time or resources to come up with a major overhaul of the tax code.  His admonition may come to pass unless the President or the House and Senate tax committees move early on to develop a consensus on major tax reform.  As to health spending matters, the minority staff of the House Ways and Means Committee released a report which details various health savings options, including setting up new Medicare Part D drug rebate program for dual-eligibles and low-income subsidy recipients ($120 billion in estimated savings over a decade) and raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 (estimated savings of $124 billion).

President Obama Declares “Pass the Bill Now” During Jobs Speech

In a joint session of Congress, President Obama called on members to “pass now” his $400-450 billion American Jobs Act which he said would include payroll tax cuts for employees and employers, an extension of unemployment benefits, transportation and school construction spending and direct aid to states and cities.  The President also indicated his support for “modest adjustments” to Medicare to ensure the program’s long-term solvency.  He said the jobs bill would be fully paid-for with the details to be released within a week or two.  The pay-fors would also accompany the President’s recommendations for spending cuts to the Joint Select Committee.  The proposal for additional spending and revenue decreases is likely to make the job of the joint committee even tougher, if a consensus is to be reached by November 23rd in order to avoid a $600 billion cut to both defense and non-defense programs.



September 12, 2011: | Page 1 Page 2

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