KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

GOP Small Biz Chair Says Employer Mandate Hurting Growth

The House Small Business Committee chairman says the health law's employer insurance mandate will hurt small business growth in America while House Republicans will again this week try to pass bills on health care that the Senate ignored.

The Hill: GOP Panel Chairman Slams Employer Mandate Rule
The Obama administration's proposed rule on the employer mandate will hamper the growth and success of small U.S. firms, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee wrote Friday. In a letter to Timothy Geithner, now the former Treasury Secretary, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) quoted small-business owners saying the new rules under health care reform are impeding new hiring and raises for workers (Viebeck, 2/1).

The Hill: House To Try Again On Health Bills Ignored By The Senate
House Republicans next week will pass three non-controversial bills dealing with children's and veterans' health, all of which were easily approved with bipartisan support by the House in the last Congress, but were then ignored by the Senate. One of these, from Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), would continue a grant program for pediatric doctors that the Obama administration had proposed to scrap (Kasperowicz, 2/1).

Senators are also examining waste in Medicare with a report and soon-to-come legislation --

Modern Healthcare: Senate Committee To Target Waste In Medicare
The Senate Finance Committee will consider such nitty-gritty issues as patient observation status and the redundant overlap among CMS auditors when senators look at ways to reduce waste and abuse in federal health care spending. A 12-page summary report from the committee on Jan. 31 outlined the results of 2,000 pages of public comments received by the Senators in response to a call for recommendations last May on ways to fix Medicare. Those responses, boiled down into a list of bullet points in the summary, will inform the bipartisan group of six senators as they draft legislation for the 113th Congress, which ends in January 2015. Among the top items is the long-simmering issue of how hospitals decide whether a given patient's care justifies the most expensive Medicare benefits, known as Medicare Part A hospitalization, or if the patient should have gotten less-lucrative outpatient Part B observation care (Carlson, 2/1).

And a former congressman and mental health advocate calls for more from President Obama on the subject --

The Hill: Patrick Kennedy: Obama Should Address Nation On Mental Health
President Obama should address the country when his administration finally implements a law requiring insurers to cover mental health services, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-Mass.) said Friday. Kennedy joined Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and actor Bradley Cooper at a press conference to make the case that reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is just as important as a policy approach to mental health (Baker, 2/1).

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