HIDA’s Health Reform Update

Edition: September 2013 - Vol 21 Number 09
Article#: 4318
Author: Linda Rouse O’Neill, VP, Govt Affairs, HIDA

October brings big test for ACA

Oct. 1, 2013 is a big day for the Affordable Care Act. It’s the first day newly eligible Americans can enroll for healthcare coverage through the newly available “exchanges.” The Administration is taking extra steps to ensure the day goes smoothly. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent $150 million in grants to communities across the country, resulting in health centers hiring as many as 2,900 people to help millions of people with enrollment.

Health reform supporters need October enrollment to work well. With many states refusing to expand Medicaid and significant delays to some key reform implementation deadlines such as the employer mandate, public perception on success of the law remains varied. Providers are worried the coverage cuts that have already started will no longer be balanced by an influx of insured patients. If there’s low enrollment, expect Congress to try and help (unclear how that would be achieved, but it’s unlikely Democrats will sit idly by).

Does SGR have a chance?

For too many years to count, Congress has delayed pending Medicare cuts to physicians at the last possible moment. Recently, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved “doc fix” legislation to permanently replace the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. Not only did it pass with bipartisan support, but physicians were fairly united in its support.

The House Ways and Means Committee must now find offsets for the $140 billion plus package. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus (D-MT) has stated the House bill heads in the right direction. If offsets can be agreed upon, physician reimbursement might finally be stabilized and addressed. If Congress does not act to replace the SGR or does not provide a temporary patch as it has historically done, physician Medicare reimbursement will be cut by over 24 percent on Jan. 1, 2014.

Provider reimbursement regulations

HIDA has created a series of short summaries of the annual provider reimbursement regulations to help members stay apprised of Medicare payment changes impacting their customers. In addition, the summaries highlight key additions or changes to the numerous quality improvement initiatives that both predate health reform or are a direct result of health reform.

Updates will be provided when the regulations are finalized. Check out hida.org for the latest information.

Medical device tax raises over $1 billion in first six months

Remember all the work last year to repeal the device tax? The will was there, but the sticking point was the price tag. Eliminating the tax required lawmakers to find an extra $30 billion that could make up for lost revenue the 2.3 percent device tax was expected to raise over the next 10 years. Reports are in, and the tax has cost the industry $1 billion since its Jan. 1, 2013 start date. Hill support continues with more legislators signing on to repeal legislation, but that’s largely symbolic. With money already coming in, stopping the moving train gets harder by the day.

Come see us at the Streamlining Healthcare Conference

One of the most important things for HIDA’s advocacy efforts is hearing from members. What issues are tough on your business? What policy questions are you struggling with? Please schedule a meeting with the HIDA Government Affairs team or stop by the HIDA booth at this year’s Streamlining Healthcare Conference in Washington, DC, Sept. 24-26 to get your questions answered.