Planned Medicare Payment Reductions Trigger Hospital Action
Hospitals are sharpening their efforts to stop a scheduled 2 percent across-the-board cut in payments to Medicare providers. Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers may be stepping back from efforts to block the health law's birth control coverage mandate.
Modern Healthcare: Hospitals Look To Forestall Medicare Cuts
Hospitals are ramping up efforts to forestall a 2 percent across-the-board cut to Medicare pay for providers next year, even as some congressional health care leaders remain unaware that it's coming. The automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts from Medicare and most non-entitlement programs were required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 after Congress failed to agree on specific deficit-reduction steps by last November. It will cut $317 billion from Medicare providers and Medicare Advantage insurance plans, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. The so-called sequester will begin Feb. 1, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Medicare cuts generated vocal opposition from provider advocates and their congressional supporters before they were formally triggered at the end of 2011. But much of the debate in Congress this year around avoiding the effects of the sequester has focused almost exclusively on the national security and economic impacts of its Defense Department cuts (Daly, 7/28).
Politico: GOP May Let Contraception Rule Take Effect Without A Fight
This spring, Republicans were on a mission: repeal the Obama administration's rule to require employers to cover birth control. House Speaker John Boehner even stood on the floor of the House in February and promised that Congress would act. "This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not stand and will not stand," Boehner said. But now, with the rule set to take effect Wednesday -- part of the "Obamacare" law the GOP hates so much -- the fiery repeal rhetoric has fizzled. In fact, few on Capitol Hill are saying anything about it at all (Haberkorn and Smith, 7/27).
In other news, The Washington Post profiles Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.
The Washington Post: Rep. Dave Camp Patiently Pursues Tax Reform
Then there's the politically explosive question of whether to generate extra cash to help rein in the national debt, as Democrats and bipartisan budget experts demand. Most Republicans are hostile to that idea, but Camp has shown some flexibility. Last fall, as a member of the deficit-reduction "supercommittee," he entered talks with Baucus over a reform plan that would have raised $600 billion over 10 years in exchange for significant reductions in Social Security and Medicare spending (Montgomery, 7/28).