Lawmakers spar on Medicare Advantage plans

In a Capitol Hill hearing Friday, Republicans challenged the Obama administration's so-called Medicare Advantage "bonuses."

Politico: GOP: 'Bonuses' To Medicare Advantage Mask Cuts
The Medicare politics playing out in the presidential campaign trail are roiling Capitol Hill, too. Republicans are accusing the Obama administration of covering up cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program. They say an $8 billion demonstration project, which the Government Accountability Office has asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to shut down, is hiding the impact of the cuts (Norman, 9/24).

Kaiser Health News: House Republicans Attack Obama Administration On Medicare Advantage
In this edition of Health on the Hill, Kaiser Health News' Mary Agnes Carey interviews CQ Roll Call's Emily Ethridge about last week's House Ways and Means health subcommittee hearing on the health law's cuts to the private Medicare Advantage program (9/21).

Medpage Today: Congress Spars Over Medicare Advantage Plans
Democrats and Republicans traded jabs this week on health reform's impact on Medicare Advantage plans, with one side praising the law's effects and the other predicting it will hurt the program. Republicans in the House of Representatives held a hearing Friday on Medicare Advantage plans and took the opportunity to bash cuts in the plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) saying it will negatively impact enrollment and benefits for seniors enrolled in the plan. Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Wally Herger (R-Calif.) said in his opening statement that the ACA's $300 billion in cuts over the next decade will lead to higher cost sharing (Pittman, 9/21).

In other news from Capitol Hill -

The Hill: Bill To Repeal Health Insurance Tax Hits 218 Cosponsors
Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) announced Friday that his bill to repeal one of the taxes in President Obama's healthcare reform law has 218 co-sponsors -; enough to ensure it would pass the House. The Republican-led House has voted more than 30 times to repeal or defund all or part of the Affordable Care Act, so Boustany's bill never would have faced much trouble. But it targets a provision that has faced steady, consistent opposition from Republicans as well as the insurance industry (Baker, 9/21).

The Hill: NRCC Blasts Health Law's Tax On Medical Devices
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is renewing its attack on the healthcare law's 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. The committee, in an email Friday, said that the tax will weaken the economy by sending healthcare manufacturing jobs overseas.  The "medical device tax hidden in ObamaCare will send jobs to China and Mexico while destroying jobs at home," the NRCC wrote.  The device tax will take effect in 2013 and is meant to raise $20 billion over 10 years to help fund healthcare reform. It has been a sticking point for Republicans, who argue, with industry, that it will hamper job creation (Viebeck, 9/21).

On the sequester front -

Politico Pro: Lawmakers Eye Another Sequester, Of Sorts
There's an idea kicking around Congress to avoid the year-end "fiscal cliff," and it bears an uncanny resemblance to the dreaded sequester that's become the bane of lawmakers" collective existence. It'd be a stretch -; but not a huge one -; to call it another sequester. Designed to head off the deep automatic spending cuts and higher tax rates set to kick in next year, the proposal is to instruct -; actually, mandate -; the powerful House and Senate tax-writing committees to rewrite the Tax Code (Raju, 9/24).

Lawmakers introduce legislation to change CBO scoring for prevention and wellness programs -

Modern Healthcare: Legislation Proposed Changes To CBO Scoring Rules On Preventative Health
Reps. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), a physician, and Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) introduced legislation that would change how the Congressional Budget Office looks at budget savings from wellness programs. The Preventive Health Savings Act, which was introduced Friday, calls for the CBO to analyze scientific data to gather information on budget savings achieved through disease prevention and wellness programs beyond the 10-year budget-scoring period (Lee, 9/23).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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