This past week, CMS administrator Dr. Don Berwick stepped down from his position, state insurance regulators approved a resolution calling for changes to the Affordable Care Act’s medical loss ratio provision, and the Super Committee failed to reach a deal, which, according to the Budget Control Act of 2011, will trigger, among other things, a 2 percent reduction in Medicare spending that must come from payments to hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, and other providers.
ON THE HILL
The Super Committee disbanded this past week without reaching a deal. Though the committee was given broad power to change tax laws and the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs, fundamental disagreements on health care policy, taxes, and fiscal policy prevented members from coming to an agreement. As part of the August deal to extend the federal debt limit, Congress agreed that if the Super Committee was unable to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years, spending would automatically be cut in January 2013.
The cuts specifically excluded Medicaid, but do include a 2 percent reduction in Medicare spending that must come from payments to hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, and other providers – not to benefits.
IN THE COURTS
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday (11/23), 48 percent of voters want the Supreme Court to overturn the health care law and 40 percent said they want the court to uphold it.
Conservative interest groups and Republican congressmen are arguing that Justice Elena Kagan should sit out the health care case. Liberals and Democratic congressmen say Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself. Those who want Justice Kagan to sit out argue that the Justice Department has not been sufficiently forthcoming about Kagan's involvement in planning responses to Affordable Care Act challenges. Democrats say that Justice Thomas has a conflict of interest because his wife has worked with several groups that opposed President Obama's health reform.
AT THE AGENCIES
Medicare administrator Don Berwick has stepped down from his position effective next Friday, according to an email sent to agency staff Wednesday morning. The White House intends to appoint Marilyn Tavenner, who is currently second-in-command at CMS. The American Hospital Association issued a statement lauding the efforts of Dr. Berwick to improve health care quality and develop new models of payment delivery and saying it looks forward to working with Tavenner as well.
On Wednesday (11/22), state insurance regulators approved a resolution that calls for changes to the Affordable Care Act's medical loss ratio provision. The resolution asks Congress to consider bills that exempt insurance agents' commissions from the requirement that plans spend at least 80 percent of premiums on care or give consumers a discount.
According to a CMS news release, CMS has awarded $9 million to help Senior Medicare Patrols continue their fight against Medicare fraud.
IN THE STATES
On Tuesday (11/22) the Pennsylvania Insurance Department announced that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett gave approval to develop a state-based health insurance exchange for small businesses and individuals.
In Georgia, a conservative committee of experts, with the blessing of Gov. Nathan Deal, outlined a plan to provide the state with a health insurance exchange.
According to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. health care system is declining. This year, the Commonwealth Fund gave the country a score of 64 out of a possible 100, an all-time low. The researchers involved in the study evaluated 42 key measures of health care, each of which falls into one of five categories (Health Lives, Quality, Access, Efficiency, and Equity).
On Monday (11/28) at 2:00 p.m. at AEI, Senator Rob Portman, a member of the Super Committee, will discuss the details and implications of the committee's decisions.
On Tuesday (11/29) at 10:00 a.m. in HC-8 of the Capitol Building, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups will hold a briefing titled, "Weighing the Options for Children's Health Care and Medicaid: First Do No Harm."
On Tuesday (11/29) at 1:00 p.m. at 601 13th Street, NW, Women In Government Relations' health and social policies task force will hold a political strategy session on the likely direction of the 2012 election and what it could mean for the future of the health law.
On Tuesday (11/29) at 2:30 p.m. in Lehrman Auditorium, The Heritage Foundation will host a talk titled, "Life After the Super Committee: Where We Go From Here."
On Wednesday (11/30) at 10:00 a.m. in 2247 Rayburn, the House Oversight and Government Reform's Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives will hold a hearing titled, "Drug Shortage Crisis: Lives Are in the Balance."
On Thursday (12/1) at 9:30 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing titled, "HHS and the Catholic Church: Examining the Politicization of Grants."
On Friday (12/2) at 12:15 p.m. in G-50 Dirksen, the Alliance for Health Reform will sponsor a briefing titled, “Inside Deficit Reduction: What Now?”
To view our compilation of recent health care reform implementation news, click here.