CBO Releases Cost of MLR Relief Legislation

Rep. Mike Rogers’ “Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act” (H.R. 1206) as passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee received a cost estimate from CBO.  The agency said the legislation would increase the federal deficit by $1.1 billion in 2013-2022.  The bill would exclude agent commissions from the expenses required under the PPACA to be considered in determining the minimum loss ratio for health insurance policies.  Likely Senate opposition and the cost of this and other “repeal and replace” Obamacare measures that House Republican leaders say they will pursue present major hurdles to their enactment.  Other Republican targets next year include repealing the IPAB and the 2.3% tax on medical devices.

Enrollment Delay for Certain Medicare Beneficiaries

CMS announced that Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers affected by Hurricane Sandy who are unable to make their Medicare enrollment decisions by December 7th will be allowed to make their decision over an extended period of time by contacting the agency.

HHS Extends Deadline for State-Run Health Insurance Exchanges

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter last week to all state governors alerting them to new guidance which gives states more time to notify HHS as to their decisions on the establishment of state-run health insurance exchanges.  A state has until November 16th to notify HHS of its intent to establish its own exchange and until December 14th to submit more detailed plans for setting up the state-run exchange.  HHS will extend until February 15th the date for a state to notify HHS and submit a blueprint to partner with HHS in operating a “partnership exchange”.  Partnership exchanges will be approved by HHS on a rolling basis and state-run exchanges will be approved by the first of next year.  HHS has yet to issue final regulations regarding the details on how states and federal government will have to operate their health insurance exchanges.  Of note, several provisions of Obamacare came under attack in the November elections.  Missouri residents voted to block the establishment of a state-run insurance exchange at this time; Alabama voters approved a state legislative measure that would prevent the federal government from forcing Alabama residents to enroll in a health care insurance plan; Montana voters approved a legislative referendum that prohibits the state and the federal government from requiring state residents to purchase health insurance (except for the state university system which requires that students have health insurance); and Wyoming voters approved a state constitutional amendment that guarantees competent adults the right to make their own decisions regarding health care coverage.

Health Hearings Scheduled for This Week

House Science, Space and Technology Committee Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation hearing titled “Is ‘Meaningful Use’ Delivering Meaningful Results: An Examination of Health Information Technology Standards and Interoperability,” November 14, at 10:00 a.m.; 2318 Rayburn Bldg. 

House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing titled “The Fungal Meningitis Outbreak: Could It Have Been Prevented?” The session will focus on the recent outbreak that has been traced back to a contaminated injectable steroid produced by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts; November 14, at 10:00 a.m.; 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

Senate HELP Committee hearing on “Pharmacy Compounding: Implications of the 2012 Meningitis Outbreak,” focusing on the recent outbreak that has been traced back to a contaminated injectable steroid produced by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts; November 15 at 10:00 a.m.; 106 Dirksen Bldg.

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

H.R. 6584, to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for the compounding of drug products; MARKEY; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Nov. 2.

H.R. 6585, to amend subtitle B of title I of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to extend the temporary high-risk insurance pool program to the territories; CHRISTENSEN; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Nov. 2.

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