Legislative Activity

Franks Abortion Bill

The House is scheduled to take up H.R. 1797, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” on Tuesday, June 18, that would ban nearly all abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), was approved by a vote of 20-12 by the House Judiciary Committee despite controversial comments by its sponsor that the number of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low.” The bill is expected to be approved by the House, but will not be taken up by the Senate.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, June 18: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on “Continuing Concerns Over BioWatch and the Surveillance of Bioterrorism.”
  • Tuesday, June 18: The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on “High Prices, Low Transparency: The Bitter Pill of Health Care Costs.”
  • Wednesday, June 19: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a hearing on the “Federal Government Approaches to Issuing Biometric IDs: Part II.”
  • Thursday, June 20: The House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the 2013 Medicare Trustees Report.
  • Monday, June 24: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will hold a hearing on “Curbing Prescription Drug Abuse in Medicare.”

Executive Branch Activity

Exchange, SHOP, Premium Stabilization Programs and Market Standards Proposed Rule

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule outlining program integrity guidelines for the Health Insurance Marketplace (Marketplace) and premium stabilization programs. The rule also includes policies regarding program integrity for advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions, oversight of QHP issuers, flexibility for states, consumer protections for enrollment assistance, and establishment of standards for HHS-approved enrollee satisfaction survey vendors. Comments are due on July 19.

CMMI Innovations Challenge Round 2

The CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) convened a webinar focused on Categories One and Two for Round Two of the Health Care Innovation Awards. Specifically, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) staff provided an overview of the following categories: (1) models that are designed to rapidly reduce Medicare, Medicaid, and/or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) costs in outpatient and/or post-acute settings; and (2) models that improve care for populations with specialized needs. Letters of intent to apply are due June 28, applications will be accepted from June 14 to August 15, and CMMI expects to award 100 grants ranging from $1-30 million.

AoA State LTC Ombudsman Proposed Rule

The Administration on Aging released the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Proposed Rule. According to the advance notice, “This proposed rule replaces AoA’s 1994 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Since 1992, the functions of [the State-Long Term Care Ombudsman Program] have been delineated in the Older Americans Act; however, regulations have not been promulgated for any Title VII program. In the absence of regulatory guidance, there has been significant variation in the interpretation and implementation of these provisions among States. Recent inquiries from States and an AoA compliance review in one State have highlighted the difficulty of determining State compliance in carrying out the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program functions. This rulemaking provides the first regulatory guidance for States’ Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs to provide clarity about implementation.”

AHRQ Comment Period

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has funded the development of a prototype Consumer Reporting System for Patient Safety (CRSPS) for hospitals, systems and group practices to collect information from patients about adverse events. Following the initial public comment period, AHRQ has made substantial revisions to the data collection tools and supporting documentation, which is now available for public comment until July 8.


MACPAC June Report

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) released its June 2013 Report to Congress. The report examines several key policy issues, including Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility and coverage for maternity services, the newly implemented increase in Medicaid physician payment for primary care services, access to care for persons with disabilities, the availability of Medicaid and CHIP data that can be used by the Congress for oversight and program monitoring, and improving the effectiveness of program integrity activities.

MedPAC June Report

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its June 2013 Report to Congress. The report examines a number of payment system issues including competitively determined plan contributions, reducing payment differences across ambulatory sites of care, the Medicare hospital readmissions reduction program, the hospice payment system, care for dual-eligibles, add-on payments to ambulance providers, geographic adjustment for adjustments in the physician fee schedule, and payments to outpatient therapy services.