Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category
S. 1381 would expand Federal efforts concerning the prevention, education, treatment, and research activities related to Lyme and other tick-borne disease, including the establishment of a Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee
They’re now looking at your prostate.
H.R. 2159 and S. 1190 would “reduce disparities and improve access to effective and cost efficient diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer through advances in testing, research, and education, including through telehealth, comparative effectiveness research, and identification of best practices in patient education and outreach particularly with respect to underserved racial, ethnic and rural populations and men with a family history of prostate cancer, … establish a directive on what constitutes clinically appropriate prostate cancer imaging, and … create a prostate cancer scientific advisory board for the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Food and Drug Administration to accelerate real-time sharing of the latest research and accelerate movement of new medicines to patients.”
H.R. 2104 is called “The Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility, and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Act of 2011.” How could you possibly be against that? Anyone opposing it must want inconsistent, inaccurate, irresponsible, and totally non-excellent medical imaging and radiation therapy.
That’s why bills have names like this.
S. 1002 would prohibit theft of medical products.
H.R. 1328 would provide for coverage of qualified acupuncturist services under part B of the Medicare Program and under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
This week, after the delay caused by the tragic Tucson, Arizona shooting, the House of Representatives takes up H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. The bill would repeal “Obamacare,” also known as Public Law 111-148, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
If you know about congressional procedure, though, you know that the law isn’t going away any time soon. A bill to repeal Obamacare has to be passed by the Senate, and the president must sign it. In the Senate, a bill must pass by a majority of its 100 members, and Republicans don’t have a majority. They have 47. To top it off, most bills require a 60-vote majority because of a thing called the “cloture” rule, which requires 60 votes to end debate and prevent a filibuster.
Were the bill to get out of the Senate, there is, of course, the president, who—breaking news here—is not going to sign a bill to repeal a signature achievement. A veto override takes 2/3rds majorities in both the House and Senate. That means 290 votes in the House and 67 votes in the Senate. The bill passed 219 – 212 in the House and 60 – 39 in the Senate.
So this bill is totally for show. There’s no way it’s passing. Or is it?
The election last November, which awarded control of the House to the Republicans, appears to them to have signaled strong dissatisfaction with the new health care law. If they can pass their repeal in the House, and it gets held up in the Senate, they show the public that a change of control in the Senate will help repeal the health care law.
It might even be possible to get it through the Senate if Republicans there can attach it to a must-pass bill as an amendment—which only needs 50 votes—and convince three Democrats to vote with them. Three Democrats looking down the barrel of an election could be swayed…
Then the bill goes to the president where it will be vetoed. This will signal to the public that a change in the presidency would help repeal the health care law.
The Republicans don’t plan to pass their repeal bill into law, but they do plan to have “an issue.” That’s when one party works it so that the other party has to go on the record on the wrong side of public opinion (as they see it). That helps win elections.
We’ll see if the whole gambit pays off. But that’s how the politics of Obamacare repeal shake out.
The most significant debates in Washington seem like both a fight among children on the playground and the most important signals about the direction of the country. Wherever you are on Obamacare and its potential repeal, we’ll continue to watch with interest and hope you will too.
Here’s the current vote on H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article on the bill.
The new Congress started last week. Most of its work was ceremonial and organizational. We wrote about the transparency plans of the new Congress, which we’re pretty big on around here.
Speaking of big, Congress saw a big number of bills introduced—311 of ‘em, in fact.
The first bills of the year tell you a little bit about what issues are hot—or at least when issues folks in Congress want to lead with.
Take a look at the new bills by clicking on our “Newest Bills” link. They touch on everything under the sun. But you’ll find a couple of things that stand out. Specifically: bills to repeal the recent health care law, and bills to reduce congressional pay.
In addition to the leadership-backed plan for repeal of the health care law, there are a whole mess of bills that attack Public Law 111-148, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Take a look:
- H.R. 105, To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related health-care provisions and to enact in its place incentives to encourage health insurance coverage, and for other purposes
- H.R. 118, To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to permit a State to elect not to establish an American Health Benefit Exchange
- H.R. 119, To prohibit the hiring of additional employees by the Internal Revenue Service to implement, administer, or enforce health insurance reform
- H.R. 127, To deauthorize appropriation of funds to carry out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
- H.R. 141, To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
- H.R. 145, To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) and related health-care provisions
- H.R. 154, To prohibit the use of funds for implementation or enforcement of any Federal mandate to purchase health insurance
There’s one bill that’s not like the others. It would establish the “public option” that was dropped out of health care legislation last year. It’s H.R. 191, To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to establish a public health insurance option
Are members of Congress overpaid? A lot of members of Congress seem to think so!
More than a few bills would cut congressional pay in various ways. Here they are:
- H. Res. 22, Reducing the amount authorized for salaries and expenses of Member, committee, and leadership offices in 2011 and 2012
- H.R. 124, To provide that rates of pay for Members of Congress shall not be adjusted under section 601(a)(2) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 in the year following any fiscal year in which outlays of the United States exceed receipts of the United States
- H.R. 172, To provide that no automatic pay adjustment for Members of Congress shall be made in the year following a fiscal year in which there is a Federal budget deficit
- H.R. 187, To provide that rates of pay for Members of Congress shall not be subject to automatic adjustment; and to provide that any bill or resolution, and any amendment to any bill or resolution, which would increase Members’ pay may be adopted only by a recorded vote
- H.R. 246, To repeal the provision of law that provides for automatic pay adjustments for Members of Congress
- H.R. 236, To provide that rates of pay for Members of Congress shall not be adjusted under section 601(a)(2) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 in the year following any fiscal year in which outlays of the United States exceeded receipts of the United States
- H.R. 204, To provide for a 5 percent reduction in the rates of basic pay for Members of Congress
Will Congress actually lower its own pay? That, like most things Congress does or doesn’t do, is up to you.
Happy 112th Congress! Much more to come…
Maybe it’s all water under the bridge. Once a law is passed, there’s not much you can do about it. But the Obama administration’s reversal on the legal status of the “individual mandate” to buy health insurance is profound.
As the New York Times reports in this story:
“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” the president said last September, in a spirited exchange with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program “This Week.”
In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.
Is there one reality for campaigning about a bill, and another one about the U.S. Constitution?
Its jaw-dropping to think that a politician can say one thing so emphatically and walk away from it just a few short months later.
So. What can you do about it? One thing is to join in the debate about spending to enforce the individual mandate. We wrote a few months ago about all the IRS agents that will be hired to enforce the individual mandate. In fairness, there aren’t as many as was being reported, they aren’t all “agents,” and they won’t all be at the IRS.
But between now and the fall, this new spending will be in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. These annual spending bills must be passed by October 1, 2010, the start of the new fiscal year.
Chances are good that there will be a debate about spending to enforce the individual mandate, and chances are good that you’ll be able to read about it here.
Medicare is running out of money, and a 21% cut in payments to Medicare providers (sort of) went into effect June 1st.
Doctors, hospitals, and old people have learned to rely on government payments, so they are pretty well organized to keep the flow of dollars going. Thus relief from this pay cut—known as the “doc fix”—has been under debate for quite a while. The thing is, there’s no money for it.
But the money magically appeared late Friday.
Wait a second: June 1st was, like, three weeks ago. Did Medicare doctors get that pay cut or not? Where did the money come from?
In anticipation that more greenbacks would come through, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services held off on processing Medicare payment claims at the new low rate until Congress came up with more funds. But finally on Friday the agency started paying claims going back to June 1st, including that big cut in pay.
Naturally, the health care lobby hit the roof, so late Friday the Senate figured out a way to free up funds. This summary says that the new plan reverses the cut and provides “a 2.2 percent update to physician payment rates through November 30, 2010.”
“Update”—that’s an increase—a raise, people. And the extension of funding lasts until just after the election, when you stop paying attention.
This “doc fix” is retroactive to June 1, so it will give Medicare docs all the money they wanted (perhaps more if the raise is retroactive), assuming the bill gets signed into law.
(To make things confusing, the Senate didn’t introduce a fresh new bill. They slapped new text into one of the big health care reform bills that’s now a dead letter because Obamacare has passed. H.R. 3962, formerly known as “The Affordable Health Care for America Act,” is now called “The Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act.”)
The Senate didn’t get this done quickly enough last week for it to be sent over to the House, so early this week the House will get its chance to pass this bill. Medicare doctors will get their money, and more.
But wait a second! Where again does the money come from? The bill costs each American family about $50. That’s $2 billion in new government revenues being collected and given to Medicare docs.
Scanning the text of the bill, I have to admit, I have no idea where it comes from. There’s no section called “New Taxes” to point out who must cough up the new billions. And the summary of the bill put together by the committee handling the bill is almost completely obscure about who pays.
In its ham-handed, day-late-dollar-short way, Congress is getting money to the Medicare doctors. The taxes to pay for it come out of the American public, in some way we aren’t able to figure out. Tout the spending. Hide the taxes.