KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Snowe Breaks From GOP Pack On Health Care Spending Issues

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is one of two Republicans who did not sign on to the Finance Committee GOP recommendations for the super committee. Snowe reportedly took issue with calls to tighten Medicare eligibility requirements and to block grant the Medicaid program. 

Politico: Olympia Snowe Breaks From GOP On Health Care
Sen. Olympia Snowe, the most moderate Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, parted ways with her GOP colleagues over their calls for tighter Medicare eligibility and Medicaid block grants, according to aides. Snowe was one of two GOP committee members who didn't sign onto the Finance Committee Republican recommendations to the deficit super committee. The other was Jon Kyl of Arizona, and his absence was less notable because he's a member of the debt panel (Dobias, 10/17).

Meanwhile, the Medicare doc fix issue continues to be a matter of speculation regarding the deficit panel's deliberations.

CQ HealthBeat: No Final Decision On Debt Panel Skipping The Doc Fix, Aide Says
Speakers at a American Bar Association conference Monday offered a working-level perspective on implementation of the health care law, weighing in on a variety of issues including insurance exchange development, the tax-exempt status of nonprofit hospitals and the status of the CLASS Act. They also addressed the issue of how Congress would act to block a 30 percent cut in payments to doctors, set to take effect Jan. 1 under Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula (Reichard, 10/17).

Kansas Health Institute: Super Committee Only Adds To Uncertainty 
The budget-cutting work of the congressional Super Committee brings a new set of uncertainties for Kansas doctors. "We are watching the Super Committee closely, but it's not just the Super Committee. It's kind of everything else," said Jerry Slaughter, executive director of the Kansas Medical Society. … Of equal or greater concern to doctors, Slaughter said, is what Congress may or may not do about the so-called "doc fix," which would revise or eliminate the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), a measure Congress enacted in 1997 with the goal of controlling government spending on physician services (Shields, 10/17).

In related news, hospice already faces Medicare payment reductions over the next decade as a result of the health care law. What will the super committee decide?

Politico: Medicare Eyes Hospice For Savings
Hospice faces about $7 billion in Medicare payment reductions over a decade under the health care reform law. On top of that, the summer's debt reduction deal will trigger a 2 percent cut in 2013 — unless the deficit supercommittee reaches its own agreement (Kenen, 10/17).

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