FY 2015 Appropriations Matters

The House Appropriations Committee voted 31-18 to send to the House floor the fiscal year (FY) 2015 Agriculture/Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appropriations bill which provides the FDA with $4.5 billion in total funding ($2.6 billion in discretionary funding which is an increase of $23 million over FY 2014). Given that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its version (with a $36 million increase in discretionary funding); actions in the Senate and House are expected to move this legislation along in a timely manner. The House Appropriations Committee also approved the FY 2015 Defense appropriations bill which includes $570.4 billion in discretionary funding.

Republicans Call for New Investigations of PPACA Implementation

The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) sent a letter to the HHS OIG requesting the agency to examine the extent of the problems with HHS’ certification of the ability of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) health insurance exchanges to verify the eligibility of individuals who apply for tax credit premium subsidies. Compounding a problem that news reports said may have allowed up to a million individuals to have received improper subsidies, the Inspector General for Tax Administration in the Treasury Department testified at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing that some of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) computer systems required to prevent improper subsidy payments have yet to become operational. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee also sent a letter to the Treasury Department demanding that the agency refrain from processing any unverified subsidy payments. State Medicaid directors have also complained that their agencies continue to have severe problems processing new Medicaid enrollees using the data provided by the various health insurance exchanges.

IRS Says Employees Cannot Receive Pre-tax Lump Sums for Health Insurance

The IRS has stymied the practice by many small employers to provide employees with pre-tax lump sums that they can use to buy their own health insurance coverage. In a Q&A the agency said that the continued practice would result in a $36,500 per year penalty, although the payments could continue if reported as taxable income. The practice is being curtailed because such employer pre-tax plans do not meet the requirements that all group health plans have to meet under the PPACA. In related news, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Reps. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) and Dianne Black (R-TN) introduced legislation that would require Center of Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report to Congress annually on the results of their cost analyses of the PPACA’s employer mandate as an aid to determine whether legislation is needed to correct unnecessary burdens on small businesses, unwarranted premium increases or the stifling of job creation.

December 31, 1969: | Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4



 -  2019

 +  2018