While the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, the University of Notre Dame and other Catholic institutions filed 12 new suits against the administration; the GAO found that the NFIB was largely correct in its claim that many small businesses likely would not seek Affordable Care Act tax credits in order to provide coverage for employees; and congressional Republicans introduced legislation to repeal a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices, established by the Affordable Care Act.
AT THE AGENCIES
A new report from the Government Accountability Office affirms a claim made by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a party to the recent Affordable Care Act case heard by the Supreme Court. The GAO study found that most small employers do not commonly offer insurance and do not view the tax credits available under the Affordable Care Act as reason enough to start offering it.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reported that CMS has not collected nearly 80 percent of the Medicare overpayments identified in a 30-month span by the OIG. The statute of limitations for CMS to collect on overpayments from a hospital or other provider is 36 months, though per OIG’s recommendation, CMS is seeking a lengthening of that period.
IN THE COURTS
The University of Notre Dame, the Catholic University of America, the Archdiocese of New York, and 40 other Catholic groups filed 12 different lawsuits against the Obama administration in effort to block a government regulation compelling them to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives. The administration has already offered a compromise, which exempts institutions that employ and serve members of their faith and that are devoted to the promulgation of their faith, but the plaintiffs insist that religious intuitions not committed solely to that work, such as schools, and not exclusively serving members of their faith, should similarly be exempted.
ON THE HILL
Rep. McDermott (D-Wash.) is developing legislation that will enable states to achieve universal Medicare coverage by pooling federal funds for state Medicare plans with state tax money for universal coverage. The legislation has not yet been unveiled and would likely not make it out of the House, but it represents a step forward for those seeking universal coverage.
Sen. Hatch and others introduced legislation to repeal a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices, which was established by the Affordable Care Act to help fund other parts of the Act’s reforms.
IN THE STATES
The Illinois General Assembly passed the first half of a plan to rein in state Medicaid costs, primarily by focusing on fraud prevention and eliminating the state’s assistance for pharmaceutical drugs. Two separate bills are advancing: One, which passed the House, focuses on ending the practice of rolling over Medicaid costs from year to year, while another has already passed the House and Senate. Many are reacting negatively to the development, citing, for example, potential cuts to current Medicaid enrollees on expensive HIV drugs.
IN THIRD PARTIES
The Affordable Care Act sought to streamline care for some low-income elderly and disabled patients, but now the Alliance of Specialty Medicine has requested a one-year delay in implementation, insisting the speed and direction of implementation could compromise Medicare repayments and as a result the care of dual eligibles (those enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid).
A UnitedHealth Group study found that half of all those who purchase their own health insurance rather than going through an employer are in plans that have fewer benefits than what the Affordable Care Act will require beginning in 2014. As a result, some plans will have to increase their benefits to meet the requirements that they cover at least 60 percent of the cost of a person’s care, and deductibles will likely have to be lowered, as well.
Next Monday (6/4) at 12:15 p.m. in 325 Russell, the Alliance for Health Reform will host a briefing titled "The Healthy of Safety-Net Hospitals: How are They Faring? What's the Outlook?"
To view our compilation of recent health care reform implementation news, click here.