There’s not a lot that Democrats and Republicans agree on when it comes to the federal budget, except maybe fraud prevention. With so much focus on deficit reduction, the two parties have both embraced the idea of aggressively going after waste, fraud, and abuse of federal funds. And they see the Medicare and Medicaid programs as places that are ripe for a crackdown.
Last week, lawmakers held hearings where they tried to get a handle on the scope of the problem. This week, the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will look at new tools for curbing waste and fraud in the programs.
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Tackling fraud could help the bottom line for physicians, as well as for the federal government. President Obama has said he would like to use money saved through fraud prevention to help pay for a two-year fix to Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate, the statutory formula used to calculate payment to physicians.
Hear about this, plus how the Affordable Care Act is being received in the courts and by governors in this week’s Policy & Practice Podcast. Take a listen and share your thoughts:
It’s been nearly a year since the Affordable Care Act become the law of the land, but doctors still have plenty of questions about the impact of the law. Physicians from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., last week for the American Medical Association’s annual advocacy conference looking for answers.
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But other than a review of the health reform law’s timeline for implementation, they were treated mostly to best guesses by policy experts, who pondered whether the law can stand up to legal challenges and if the Congress will tweak any of its provisions.
For more on those predictions, check out this edition of the Policy & Practice Podcast. You’ll also hear more about the brewing debate on abortion funding and the potential impact of proposed legislation to restrict federal spending on abortion. Take a listen:
And stay tuned next week for the latest on the President’s budget proposal and how it was received on Capitol Hill.
It was only a week ago that a Florida judge tossed out the Affordable Care Act, declaring the mandate to purchase insurance unconstitutional. But since then lawmakers, legal scholars, and pundits have been trying to guess what might ultimately happen with the law. Will the Supreme Court invalidate the whole thing? Will the high court carve out the individual mandate and send lawmakers back to the drawing board on that one piece? Will the court find that Congress acted within its constitutional authority and uphold the ACA?
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One thing is for sure, many people are already sick of waiting. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has introduced a resolution calling for an expedited review of the law by the Supreme Court. And Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, the attorney general of Virginia, who is leading a legal charge against the ACA, is petitioning to have his case heard sooner rather than later.
“Currently, state governments and private businesses are being forced to expend enormous amounts of resources to prepare to implement a law that, in the end, may be declared unconstitutional,” Mr. Cuccinelli said in a statement. “Regardless of whether you believe the law is constitutional or not, we should all agree that a prompt resolution of this issue is in everyone’s best interest.”
For more on the most recent court ruling on health reform, check out this week’s Policy & Practice Podcast:
And stay tuned next week for more implementation news and continued political debate over abortion and the health reform law.
The big political story this week is the State of the Union address. A year ago, President Obama stood before Congress and asked lawmakers not to “walk away” from reform when they were so close to passing it. They listened. Now, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, but Democrats no longer control the House.
President Obama works on his State of the Union speech with speechwriter Jon Favreau on Jan. 24, 2011. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
Despite the role that health reform’s passage may have played in Democratic defeats last year, the President is expected to defend the new law in his speech. Meanwhile, Republicans are showing no signs of letting up on their campaign to convince the public that the law is too expensive. Leaders in the new GOP-controlled House are holding hearings this week to look at the effects of the law on jobs and the economy.
For more on Republican push back against the law, medical liability reform, and the latest implementation news, check out this week’s Policy & Practice Podcast:
Later today the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on whether to repeal the controversial health reform law. The outcome isn’t in suspense. The measure will pass the GOP-controlled House, but won’t see the light of day in the Senate.
But the certainty of the outcome hasn’t stopped both sides from reigniting the health reform debate. Since health reform is now the law of the land, Democrats are saying that Republicans want to take away popular benefits like free preventive care and bans on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. And Republicans are hitting the budget issue hard, saying that repeal is the only way to keep the health reform law from sinking the economy.
House Speaker John Boehner argued against the passage of the health reform bill back in 2009 when the GOP was in the minority. Image via Flickr user House GOP Leader by Creative Commons License.
Check out next week’s Policy & Practice Podcast for all the details on the debate and what will happen after today’s vote. But if you can’t wait that long to get your health policy fix, listen to today’s podcast for more on lawsuits challenging the health reform law, how the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission plans to stay relevant, and how many physicians plan to take advantage of new government incentives for the adoption of electronic health records.
The President, the First Lady, and the White House staff observe a moment of silence on Monday morning. White House photo by Pete Souza.
This week in Washington, D.C., was supposed to be all about health care reform, with Republicans calling for a complete repeal of the new law and Democrats mounting a vigorous defense of their signature legislative achievement of 2010. But all of that was set aside over the weekend when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D.,- Ariz.) and 19 others were shot outside of a supermarket in Tucson, Ariz.
Now, members of Congress are reflecting on the violence and the need for civility, and legislative business is on hold for the week. It’s unclear when the House will vote on the proposed repeal of health reform and whether the debate will have a different tone in the wake of this shooting.
Listen to this week’s Policy & Practice Podcast for the latest health reform developments, including value-based purchasing for hospitals and trends in health spending.
As the year winds up, opponents of the Affordable Care Act are continuing to get their days in court. A week ago, a judge in Virginia ruled that the individual mandate required by health reform — that is, that everyone in America should purchase health insurance — is unconstitutional. That challenge is expected to rise to the United States Supreme Court.
Via Flickr Creative Commons user Fibonacci Blue
This week, we bring you news about a challenge brought by attorneys general in 20 states and heard in a Florida court. There, the goal is to knock off the individual mandate as well, but the opponents also say that the health reform law’s large-scale expansion of Medicaid is unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, everyone is waiting to see which foes of health reform will be given prominent positions in the House when the new Congress returns in January. In this week’s edition, we report on some of the Republicans who have been chosen to lead the newly reconstituted House Energy and Commerce Committee.