House GOP budget resolution calls for significant cuts to health care   03/12/2013
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) today unveiled a budget resolution for fiscal year 2014 that would cut more than $4.6 trillion in government spending over the next 10 years. About $2.7 trillion of the proposed spending reductions would come from health care, much of which is achieved by savings attributed to repealing the coverage provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act while maintaining the ACA’s reductions. The plan also recommends reforming the medical liability system; increasing means testing for Medicare Parts B and D; repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board; and establishing a deficit-neutral reserve fund to address the “doc-fix.” Starting in 2024, Medicare would transition to a premium support program, with workers currently under age 55 choosing between private plans and a traditional fee-for-service option through a newly created Medicare Exchange. The budget also would convert Medicaid into a block grant program and reduce federal Medicaid spending by $756 billion over 10 years.
Senate begins debate on substitute CR   03/12/2013
The Senate Appropriations Committee last night introduced a substitute amendment to the House-passed continuing resolution that would fund the government through September while adding appropriations and flexibility for certain agencies, without increasing overall funding. Among other changes, the bipartisan legislation includes a $71 million increase for the National Institutes of Health and would require the administration to obligate all fiscal year 2013 funds appropriated for community health centers. The legislation retains the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that took effect March 1 under the Budget Control Act, including the 2% reduction to providers’ Medicare payments. The current CR expires March 27.
Supreme Court urged to overturn workforce-related decision   03/12/2013
The AHA yesterday joined The Equal Employment Advisory Council and National Federation of Independent Business in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, which relieved an employee of the burden to prove that unlawful retaliation was the sole reason for an adverse employment decision affecting that employee. In a friend-of-the-court brief, the groups said the decision conflicts with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and is irreconcilable with existing Supreme Court precedent. “An employer should not be held legally responsible for alleged workplace retaliation – and subject to liability for compensatory and punitive damages – where the plaintiff is unable to establish a direct, causal connection between his protected conduct and [the adverse action],” they wrote. According to the brief, the federal appeals court ruling would permit an employee to sustain a retaliation claim against an employer even if the employee can show only that a legally prohibited reason was one possible explanation for the employer’s decision, and would likely preclude summary judgment even in cases where the evidence of discrimination is weak or nonexistent. Retaliation cases are an increasing source of Title VII litigation, and “frivolous mixed-motive claims divert attention and resources away from the development of proactive corporate nondiscrimination and anti-retaliation measures,” the brief notes.
Medicaid expansion would boost economy, jobs in Iowa   03/12/2013
Expanding Medicaid to an estimated 115,000 Iowa adults under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would add nearly $2.2 billion and more than 2,300 jobs to the state’s economy over the next seven years while saving more than $1.6 billion, according to a report released today by the Iowa Hospital Association and funded by the AHA. The federal government would pay 100% of the cost of the Medicaid expansion through 2016, phasing down to 90% in 2020. “Medicaid expansion is a win for everyone in Iowa,” said IHA President and CEO Kirk Norris. “It’s a win for uninsured Iowans who will be covered. It’s a win for Iowa businesses that will benefit from these new dollars and a healthier workforce and it’s a win for the state with more than a billion and a half dollars in net savings.”