House Republicans Use Final Week to Set Up PPACA Changes Next Year

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee took MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber to task over the remarks he made in video recordings which both Republicans and Democrats on the committee said were disparaging to the public and “stupid”. Dr. Gruber responded, thusly: “I am not an expert on politics, and my tone implied that I was, which is wrong. In other cases I simply made insulting and mean comments that are totally uncalled for in any situation.” He pleaded ignorance that he was the architect of the health reform law, but Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is apparently not done with his inquiry, in that he obtained a subsequent committee vote to subpoena Dr. Gruber’s statements and other records connected to state and federal activities related to the health care law. Rep. Issa said: “Dr. Gruber repeatedly refused to answer several key questions, including the amount of taxpayer funds he received for his work on Obamacare….The American people deserve not just an apology, but a full accounting, which Dr. Gruber must provide.” The committee also grilled CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner about the agency’s admission in mistakenly including nearly 400,000 individuals electing dental only coverage in its estimate of 7.3 million persons enrolled under the PPACA. She apologized but defended the law, stating that “While this mistake was regrettable, it shouldn’t obscure the fact that the Affordable Care Act is working….” Before the open enrollment period ends on December 15th, the President gave a public push for young people to sign up for coverage which he said could cost “less than $100”. HHS reported that, with respect to those who have accessed the exchanges so far, about 52% were renewals while 48% represent new enrollments. The Senate Republican Conference also took a shot at the law in passing a resolution stating that all Senate Republican staff should get their health benefits through the District of Columbia’s health insurance exchange and not use a special provision under regulations allowing such staff to continue receiving their coverage under the Federal Health Benefits program.

PPACA Payments to Stellar Community Health Centers

HHS announced that it has awarded $36.3 million to more than 1,000 U.S. health facilities that have significantly improved patient care quality, outcomes, managing care and use of electronic health records (EHRs).

Request for Comments on House 21st Century Cures Initiative

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, as part of the committee’s 21st Century Cures initiative, is asking for comments by January 5th on the regulation of in vitro diagnostic test kits and laboratory developed tests (LDTs). The committee asks what it says are important questions regarding possible duplication and other issues with respect to the regulation of LDT’s under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and the Food and Drug Act.

House Energy and Commerce Hearing on Federal Health Costs

At a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) indicated the possible direction the committee could take next year when he said about Medicare and Medicaid--“These programs need to be strengthened and modernized, not just because millions of Americans depend on them for their health care, but also because out-of-control entitlement spending is crowding out other important priorities….” A witness from the American Action Forum testified that Congress should put limitations on the expansive spending under the PPACA and subject provisions of the law to cost-saving reforms, such as decreasing the eligibility level for individual tax credit premium assistance. He went on to say that the savings could be used to pay for the reform of the current Medicare physician payment sustainable growth rate (SGR) mechanism. Judy Feder, a professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, objected stating that Medicare and Medicaid are not in crisis and that the PPACA has generated Medicare savings.

December 31, 1969: | Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6



 -  2019

 +  2018