Other Appropriations Matters

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education has released a proposed FY 2012 $153.4 billion spending bill which, among other things, would rescind $8.6 billion in appropriations related to the PPACA.  It would prohibit HHS from continuing to implement the law until 90 days after the date when all legal challenges to the PPACA have concluded.  Among the bill’s cuts from current spending:

  • Zeroing out funding for the PPACA’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight; 
  • Rescinding $15 million due for the Independent Payment Advisory Board; 
  • Reducing CDC funding by $52 million; 
  • Cutting $1 billion from the PPACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund; 
  • Preventing funding going to Planned Parenthood unless the organization attests that it will not perform abortions or provide funding to other abortion providers;
  • Cutting all funding for Title X, which pays for medical services such as contraception and cancer screenings for low-income women; 
  • Barring the use of any funding available through the PPACA or FY 2012 appropriations for health plans that cover abortions; and 
  • Banning funding for needle-exchange programs.  
  • However, the bill would provide $268 million for GME at children’s hospitals and increase NIH funding by $1 billion to $31.7 billion.

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

Members continue to weigh-in with suggestions for the deficit reduction committee. Senators Tom Carper and Tom Coburn said the super committee should consider including S. 1251, their legislation which would provide the federal government with increased authority to reduce fraud, particularly under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  Senator Tom Coburn also joined with Senator Joseph Lieberman urging the committee to consider their proposal to cut Medicare spending by $500 billion over five years by, among other things, increasing the Medicare eligibility age and raising higher-income beneficiary premiums under Medicare Part B. Rep. Allyson Schwartz also sent a Dear Colleague letter to House members urging them to join her in efforts to have the super committee repeal the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) and provide a permanent fix for the Medicare physician payment system.

Autism Research Extended

By unanimous consent, the Senate passed the House-passed legislation, H.R. 2005, which authorizes $231 million per year from FY 2012-2014 for autism research and other activities at CDC and NIH.  The President is expected to sign the bill into law. Senators Coburn and Jim DeMint released their hold on the legislation after the bill’s sponsor, Senator Robert Menendez, agreed to have the GAO investigate the spending under the program.

PPACA Headed to Supreme Court?

In a sort of turnaround, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting a review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Florida v. HHS which declared the PPACA’ individual mandate unconstitutional.  The DOJ argued to the Supreme Court that the Eleventh Circuit improperly failed to defer to Congress’s policy judgment that the individual mandate affects interstate commerce and that Congress has the authority to enact the mandate under the Necessary and Proper clause as well.  The speculation is that the Administration did not want the court to delay a decision past the next election when another person could occupy the White House.  However, the DOJ said the 11th Circuit case is the right one to review because it raises all the relevant questions.  Twenty-six states and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) have also filed separate petitions asking the court to hear the “severability” issue raised in the case, that is, that the entire Act should be declared invalid if the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional.  On the other hand, the DOJ asked the Supreme Court to address whether the tax anti-injunction act (AIA) bars the states’ challenge to the individual mandate.  The states have also asked the court to review whether the Medicaid expansion should be held invalid.  The conditions seem to argue for a Supreme Court review given the different decision in the Sixth Circuit’s case upholding the individual mandate.

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