House Passes Veterinarians Controlled Substance Legislation

Last week the House passed H.R. 1528, legislation that would allow licensed veterinarians to transport and dispense controlled substances outside of their usual veterinary practice locations.

Supreme Court Opens Another Round on PPACA Coverage

In the Hobby Lobby decision the Supreme Court hinted that the Administration could have avoided the court’s adverse ruling if it had pursued for non-publicly held for-profit corporations the same sort of “accommodation” that it gave to non-profit religious organizations exempting them from certain PPACA contraceptive coverage. However, the Court appeared to also call that accommodation into question in connection with it’s July 3rd order which granted the non-profit Wheaton College an injunction which, for the time being, exempts the college from having to file an accommodation form with HHS which the religious institution says would violate its religious freedom.

HHS/CMS Report on PPACA Activities

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at the end of May 2014 exceeded by 6.5 million individuals the programs’ enrollment before last October’s start of the PPACA. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced that public/non-profit private entities, including tribal, faith-based and community-based organizations may apply by August 21 for up to a total of $100 million in PPACA funding to establish about 150 new community health centers. Under round two of the PPACA’s Health Care Innovation Awards program, CMS will also award from $2-24 million over three years to grantees to test innovative health-care models that help lower costs and improve health care in federal outpatient and post-acute settings and in special needs populations. HHS also announced that it has provided over $83 million in PPACA grants to train more than 550 primary care resident physicians in sixty teaching health centers.

Senate Committee Recommends Medicare RAC Changes

The Senate Special Committee on Aging released a report critical of the Medicare Recovery Audit Contractors (RAC) program that recommends RACs be paid based on their success in reducing improper payment rates to give them incentive to focus on potential areas of improper payments. Chairman Bill Nelson (D-FL) said “We need to find out how to reduce improper payments, how to cull out the bad from the good, while making sure doctors and nurses spend more time with their patients instead of the paperwork….” At a committee roundtable on the subject, a representative of RACs said the program has saved Medicare over $8 billion since its inception while hospital witnesses were critical of the program’s administrative burdens and resulting delay in Medicare payments. The report makes a number of recommendations for CMS which the committee will monitor for implementation.

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