Upcoming House Vote to Repeal the IPAB

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to vote to repeal the PPACA Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) this Wednesday.  Last week the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee voted 17 to 5 to advance the legislation, H.R. 452 (the Medicare Decisions Accountability Act).  The legislation does not offset the cost of repeal which the CBO estimates to be about $2.4 billion over ten years.  The IPAB also came under attack in the House Budget Committee where Chairman Paul Ryan said the IPAB is nothing but a group of “unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats….empowered to cut Medicare in ways that will result in restricted access and denied care for current seniors.”  The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee is also expected to hold hearings on the potential impact of the IPAB on Medicare services.  HHS testified that the IPAB may not make recommendations until 2018 at the earliest.

Plaintiffs in PPACA Case Says AIA Not a Barrier to Supreme Court Decision

The CMS CCIIO also announced that $638.7 million in federal loans have been granted to seven private, nonprofit Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-Ops).  Additional applications will be considered throughout 2012.  The PPACA authorized CO-OPs to help increase competition among health insurers.  Any profits of such CO-OPs are required to be used to improve quality, benefits and premium affordability for covered participants.

Fate of Doc Fix Debated

During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the FY 2013 Administration budget, Rep. Wally Herger questioned HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius why the 10-year budget reflects a $429 billion payment for a long-term fix to the troubled Medicare physician payment mechanism without indicating the means for changing the sustainable growth rate.  The HHS Secretary responded that the Administration will work with Congress on the terms of such a fix and that the payment for such a fix may come from a legislative package designed to address the long-term budget deficit.  The House Budget Committee also debated the doc fix and the need to bring Medicare costs under control in order to pay for a solution.  One witness, a Harvard economist, testified that nearly $750 billion in medical spending each year is wasted with an estimated $400 billion going to unnecessary services, inefficiently delivered services and missed prevention opportunities while $350 billion is spent on excessive administrative costs ($190 billion), prices that are too high ($105 billion) and fraud ($75 billion).  He recommended the use of bundled payments in Medicare and Medicaid to help correct such waste.

FDA Budget Issues

At a House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee hearing, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg testified that the President’s FY 2013 budget proposal includes a total of about $4.5 billion for FDA operations (about $2.5 billion in appropriations) and that the 17% requested increase would come mainly from industry-paid user fees.  Some Democrats were critical of using user fees for such a large share of FDA enforcement and review efforts.  Chairman Jack Kingston said the “FDA’s budget request appears to be lean, focused, and responsible given the current fiscal environment….”

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

H.R. 4087 (PRESCRIPTION DRUG LABELING), to provide for the development and dissemination of best practices to ensure that visually impaired and blind individuals in the United States have safe, consistent, reliable, and independent access to the information in prescription drug labeling; MARKEY; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Feb. 24.

H.R. 4091 (DENTAL CARE), to assist low-income individuals in obtaining medically recommended dental care; DEGETTE; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Feb. 27.

H.R. 4095 (PHARMACIES), to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of Internet pharmacies; CASSIDY; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Feb. 28.

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