Sen. Hatch Prepares Obamacare Contingency Plan
The Senate Finance Committee chairman is readying a "short-term" proposal to help those who could lose subsidies if the Supreme Court strikes them down in a challenge to the health law. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, some push to tie funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program to a Medicare doctor pay fix, and changes are in store for the top leadership at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The Associated Press:
Capitol Hill Buzz: Sen. Hatch Prepping Health Plan
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch is backing a Supreme Court challenge to one of the keystones of President Barack Obama's health care law. Now, he says he's preparing a plan to help people who might be hurt if his side wins the case. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments next week in a case by conservatives and Republicans that says many subsidies the law provides for millions of people are unconstitutional. They argue that the law only allows such subsidies for the 13 states that set up their own marketplaces to sell health insurance, not the 37 states that use the federal HealthCare.gov website. (2/23)
Advocates Press To Add Children's Health Funding To 'Doc Fix'
Democrats laid down a marker on health spending this month when they simultaneously introduced bills in the House and Senate to renew funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program through fiscal 2019. It was the opening gambit in what could be a months-long battle with Republicans over a program serving at least 8 million children that once provided a rallying cry for bipartisanship. Although the parties have time to find common ground before funding expires Sept. 30, children's health advocates say the issue, as a practical matter, needs to be resolved before states approve their budgets. And they are pressing to add a funding extension to "doc fix" legislation Congress is expected to pass in March that would block scheduled cuts to doctors participating in Medicare. (Attias, 2/23)
Changes At The Top Of Medicare, Medicaid Agency
Big changes are in store later this month at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after Administrator Marilyn Tavenner officially steps down. Andy Slavitt, CMS' principal deputy administrator and a top spokesman for the dramatically improved Affordable Care Act rollout this year, takes over for Tavenner, the agency said last month. On Monday the agency announced Slavitt will be replaced in an acting capacity by Patrick Conway, a doctor who is chief medical officer at CMS. (O'Donnell, 2/23)