Healthcare News March 5, 2013

  • Medicare trustee doubts future funding for Medicaid expansion

    A Medicare trustee is questioning whether the federal government will maintain its commitment to foot most of the cost of expanding Medicaid under the healthcare law.

    Charles Blahous released a report Monday cautioning states to “consider the likelihood that federal financing support may be ultimately reduced from current schedules.”

    “From a practical perspective, it is quite unlikely that the federal government will make the full amount of Medicaid payments now scheduled under law,” Blahous wrote, citing rising U.S. debt and pressure to reduce it. 

  • House passes biohazard preparation bill, sends to Obama

    The House on Monday evening passed legislation that would reauthorize several programs meant to help develop medical countermeasures and take other steps to prepare for public health emergencies and biohazards, including possible terrorist attacks.

    Members approved H.R. 307, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, in a 370-28 vote. All of of the “no” votes came from Republicans.

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Spending bill won’t defund Obama health law

    A bill to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year would not defund President Obama’s healthcare law, to the chagrin of some conservatives. The House Appropriations Committee unveiled legislation Monday that assumes sequestration will take effect. The bill aims to protect the Pentagon and some other agencies from cuts, but does not include controversial riders that have hampered bipartisan consensus in the past, including provisions to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. A temporary spending bill runs out after March 27, meaning the clock is ticking for lawmakers that want to avoid a government shutdown.

    The conservative Club for Growth is pushing lawmakers to oppose the bill, given that it would not defund the healthcare law. The group has threatened to score against this week’s vote, and circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter from Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) on Friday urging members to remember their opposition to the law.

    “Please commit to not bring to the House floor any legislation that provides or allows funds to implement ObamaCare through the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Treasury, or any other federal entity,” the lawmakers wrote.

  • GAO reports billions in overpayments to private Medicare plans

    The Medicare agency overpaid private Medicare Advantage plans by at least $3.2 billion between 2010 and 2012, government auditors said Monday.

    In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) calculates payment rates for Medicare Advantage.

    According to the audit, CMS inadequately adjusts the “risk scores” for private Medicare beneficiaries compared with public, fee-for-service ones. 

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