Weekly Washington Healthcare Update - October 28, 2013

Author:Ms Stephanie Kennan and Brian J. Looser
Profession:McGuireWoods LLP
 
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  1. Congress

    House

    Energy and Commerce Hearing with Healthcare.Gov Contractors

    On Oct. 24, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to examine the role of private contractors in the recent computer "glitches" that have plagued the rollout of the ACA's health insurance exchanges. Witnesses testified that, among other things, CMS made the call to turn off the anonymous shopping feature just two weeks before the launch. Republicans have suggested that the decision to require people to sign up for an account before being able to view insurance plans was political, made by HHS in order to mask the high cost of health plans. None of the contractors testifying suggested delaying the launch, despite worries they had about inadequate testing.

    Witnesses:

    Cheryl Campbell Senior Vice President CGI Federal

    Andrew Slavitt Group Executive Vice President Optum/QSSI

    Lynn Spellecy Corporate Counsel Equifax Workforce Solutions

    John Lau Program Director Serco

    For more information, please visit: energycommerce.house.gov

    Bill Would Allow All U.S. Citizens to Enroll in Federal Employees Health Plan

    On Oct. 24, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (CA-R) along with Reps. Mick Mulvaney (SC-R) and Lacy Clay (MO-D) introduced a bill that would allow all U.S. citizens the opportunity to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). "The Equal Access Act offers Americans access to the same health insurance plans long enjoyed by members of Congress and their families. This is a free market approach to health care with government playing the very limited role of helping small businesses and individuals come together to get a better price for healthcare," Rep. Issa said in a statement. Lawmakers say the advantages of the bill would include nationwide coverage with a high participation rate among physicians, affordable options fostering great competition to lower price and improve quality, the expansion of consumer choice given the 256 plans available in 2014 in the FEHBP, additional flexibility options for private-sector employers, and low administrative costs. On the other hand, critics of the bill say that FEHBP has many flaws including extremely high premiums, making it unrealistic for most Americans, and that many of the FEHBP's advantages exist within the Affordable Care Act. According to Office of Personnel Management charts, in 2014 the average premium costs for the FEHBP will be $183.07 for a family and $83.12 for an individual per two-week pay period.

    Upcoming Ways and Means Hearing on the Status of ACA Implementation

    House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has scheduled a hearing to examine difficulties Americans are experiencing with the launch of the ACA. The Committee will hear testimony from Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). CMS is the federal agency that oversees the operation of the exchanges through the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO). The hearing will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10 a.m.

    Witnesses:

    Hon. Marilyn Tavenner Administrator Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

    For more information, or to view the hearing, please visit: waysandmeans.house.gov

    Secretary Sebelius to Appear Before Energy and Commerce

    The Committee on Energy and Commerce has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, at 9 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. The title of the hearing is "PPACA Implementation Failures: Answers from HHS." The hearing will focus on the recent enrollment issues that have hindered individuals' access to health insurance through ACA-created health exchanges.

    Witnesses:

    Hon. Kathleen Sebelius Secretary U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    For more information, or to view the hearing, please visit: energycommerce.house.gov

    Senate

    Upcoming HELP Committee Consideration of Children's Hospital GME

    On Oct. 30, the Senate HELP Committee will meet for executive session in which Chairman Harkin (D-IA) intends to consider, among other bills, legislation to reauthorize the Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education (GME) law, which authorizes payments to children's hospitals for operating training programs that provide graduate medical education. The session will take place at 10 a.m. in Room...

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