Healthcare News January 19, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: CLASS repeal moves forward

    The House will vote next month to repeal the healthcare law’s CLASS program, the first healthcare repeal vote of the new year. The Ways and Means Committee passed the CLASS repeal bill 23-13 on Wednesday, with only one Democrat — Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) — breaking from the party line and supporting repeal.

    The GOP had hoped repeal of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act would split congressional Democrats, who wouldn’t want to be seen voting to preserve an unworkable program. But Democrats have stayed almost completely united against the repeal effort so far. The party only lost three votes when the Energy and Commerce Committee marked up the repeal bill, all from members who voted against the healthcare bill in the first place.

    Healthwatch’s Sam Baker has more from the markup.

  • Pentagon starts new initiatives to curb military sexual assault

    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced new Pentagon initiatives Wednesday
    to try to reduce an “unacceptable” number of sexual assaults in the military.

    Panetta said there were 3,191 reports of sexual assault in
    2011, a slight increase from 2010. Because the crime is underreported, the military
    estimates that the actual number was closer to 19,000, Panetta said at a press
    conference announcing the new measures Wednesday.

  • CBO: Medicare cost-cutting programs haven’t worked

    Programs designed to cut Medicare spending and improve the quality of healthcare have mostly failed, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

    The findings are a blow to existing Medicare projects as well as a key goal of the healthcare reform law.

    There is widespread support, in Congress and among economists, for the broad ideal that Medicare would save money if it paid for better outcomes instead of more procedures. But 20 years of trying to shift the program in that direction have yielded little to no progress, CBO said Wednesday.

  • House panel passes bill to repeal healthcare law’s CLASS Act

    The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday to repeal the healthcare law’s controversial CLASS program, clearing the way for a floor vote next month.

    Only one committee Democrat — Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) — broke party lines to vote in favor of repeal. Three Democrats voted for repeal when the Energy and Commerce Committee passed the CLASS repeal bill in November.

    The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act was intended to provide insurance for long-term care, but the Health and Human Services Department stopped implementing the program after determining that it would not be financially sound. Republicans hope the push to repeal CLASS will leave Democrats with a politically uncomfortable choice — repeal part of their signature healthcare law or vote to preserve an unworkable program.

    Ways and Means passed its CLASS repeal bill, sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.), by a 23-13 vote. The measure will come to the floor next month, an aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said.

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