House Hearing on MD Payment Refor

At the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on the committee’s draft legislation designed to replace the current Medicare physician payment sustainable growth rate (SGR) system, both Republican and Democrat leaders agreed that they have a consensus on which direction and the broad policy goals needed to ensure that reform happens this year. Nonetheless, some Democrats were not convinced that the specifics of the proposal are adequate to move providers to new payment models and away from fee-for-service medicine in a timely fashion. Several witnesses suggested that the legislation: provide a minimum 5-year period of payment stability after repealing the SGR; provide bonus pay-for-performance payments from 5-10%; use a national performance benchmark to measure physician performance to help foster best practices; and provide mechanisms to develop better quality of care measurement. Further comments on the draft bill are due on Monday, June 10th. The chairman said his intent is to move the legislation to the House floor by the August congressional recess.

President Addresses NCMH

At the National Conference on Mental Health (NCMH), President Obama delivered remarks urging Americans to “help bring mental illness out of the shadows” and promising new resources to support efforts to improve the current rate of mental illness treatment (about 40% of estimated illnesses). The conference discussed the PPACA’s mandates for treating mental illness; the President’s budget which would provide $130 million in new funding to help teachers and other education professionals identify signs of mental illness in students and refer them for treatment; as well as several new private initiatives. The status of mental health legislation, S. 264 and S. 689, remains uncertain in light of the stalled efforts on legislation designed to curb gun violence.

Medicare Data Released

HHS announced the release of Medicare data sets containing information designed to help researchers and consumers better understand Medicare spending and improve program transparency. The data include certain information on hospital outpatient charges and county-level Medicare spending and utilization.

Managed-Care Data Reporting for Dual-Eligibles

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has requested comments by June 14 on new draft reporting rules requiring managed care plans serving Medicare/Medicaid dual-eligibles to provide information on access, assessment, care coordination, enrollee protections, organizational structure and staffing, provider network, systems and utilization.

Reporting System for Medical Errors

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) gave notice it is seeking clearance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for a pilot “Prototype Consumer Reporting System for Patient Safety Events.” The agency said consumers would be able to submit online or phone reports under the system describing “medical errors” that “resulted in harm or injury.”

Upcoming Hearings and Markups on Health-Related Legislation

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee: will hold a hearing entitled “The Need for Medicaid Reform: A State Perspective;” 10:00 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg; June 12.

House Energy and Commerce Environment and the Economy Subcommittee: will hold a hearing titled “Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act: Understanding its History and Reviewing its Impact;” 10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg; June 13.

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee: will hold a hearing titled “Examining the Federal Government’s Response to the Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis;” 9:30 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg; June 14.

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee: will hold a hearing to review proposals to Overhaul Post-Acute Care Payments Under Medicare; 9:30 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg; June 14.

Health Legislation Recently Introduced

S. 1089 (PRESCRIPTION DRUGS), to provide for a prescription drug take-back program for members of the armed forces and veterans, and for other purposes; COLLINS; to the Committee on the Judiciary, June 4.

S. 1091 (ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE), to provide for the issuance of an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Semipostal Stamp; MIKULSKI; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, June 4.

H.R. 2285 (PUBLIC HEALTH), Strategies To Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act to amend the Public Health Service Act to enhance efforts to address antimicrobial resistance, and for other purposes; MATHESON; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, June 6.

H.R. 2286 (OUTCOMES), to promote optimal maternity outcomes by making evidence-based maternity care a national priority, and for other purposes; ROYBAL-ALLARD; jointly, to the committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means, June 6.

H.R. 2300 (HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE), to provide for incentives to encourage health insurance coverage, and for other purposes; PRICE of Georgia; jointly, to the committees on Energy and Commerce, Education and the Workforce, Ways and Means, the Judiciary, Natural Resources, House Administration, Rules, Appropriations, the Budget, and Oversight and Government Reform, June 6.

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