Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014

Census Bureau Updates HIV-AIDS Research Library

The U.S. Census Bureau this week announced the annual update of its database of scientific journals and reports on HIV-AIDS research. The agency touts the library as the “most comprehensive resource of its kind in the world.”

The database is maintained by funding for from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was established during the administration of President George W. Bush. Last week, the Obama administration outlined its action plan for AIDS programs.

The plan included three high-level strategic goals, including reducing HIV infections, increasing access to care and “reducing HIV-related health disparities.” The White House also wants to improve coordination between federal and local agencies.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have yet to clear any of the primary fiscal 2015 spending bills that cover domestic HIV/AIDS programs. So it remains to be seen how much of the administration’s vision will be put into practice.

House Plans Vote on Plan to Sue Obama Over Health Law

Republicans are preparing to vote on a resolution that would pave the way for the House to sue President Barack Obama over his executive actions to delay parts of the Affordable Care Act.

The House Rules Committee on Thursday began to lay the procedural groundwork for a vote by the full House next week on a resolution offered by Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, that authorizes a lawsuit on behalf of the House against the administration’s delay in the enforcement of the employer insurance mandate contained in the 2010 health care overhaul law.

CQ Roll Call’s Emma Dumain reported on the raucous Rules Committee session, which featured two hours of political wrangling over the lawsuit plan and other topics. Both parties accused the other of playing politics with the vote.

At one point, Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts accused his GOP counterparts of acting out of “hatred” for the president and called the Republicans “cuckoo clocks,” Dumain reports. “I’ll come up with a better word if I can think of one,” McGovern replied after Sessions, chairman of the Rules Committee, asked him to refrain from such name-calling.

 

Bipartisan Health Bills: Medical Leave, Congressional Plans and Chronic Care Coverage

Despite bitter congressional wrangling over the health care overhaul law and health spending priorities, several bills introduced this week suggest there is some bipartisan consensus on health care issues.

Louisiana Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy offered the House version of a bill that would allow tax credits to employers who provide paid family and medical leave to employees. The bill is a paired with a Senate measure offered by Maine Independent Sen. Angus King.

Separately, New York Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei introduced a bill that would eliminate subsidies to Members of Congress for health insurance coverage and require lawmakers to purchase insurance on their home state exchanges.  Roll Call reported this week on a federal court’s rejection of a legal challenge to the congressional health subsidies spearheaded by Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

Also, Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black and Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer joined forces to introduce a bill that seeks to establish a trial of a Medicare Advantage value-based insurance program. The concept will experiment on eliminating co-pays for certain necessary services to entice patients to access care for chronic conditions.

Health Law Requirements Added to Tax Forms

The IRS has fleshed out new reporting requirements stemming from the Affordable Care Act, including instructions for how taxpayers should calculate penalties if they fail to purchase insurance.

Under the law, taxpayers filing returns next year need to meet the new reporting requirements.

On Thursday, the IRS unveiled a variety of draft tax forms for documenting individual and employer health insurance coverage and instructions for calculating tax penalties for failing to purchase insurance.

The healthcare law included a tax penalty that kicks in if many Americans don’t purchase insurance. The penalty is designed to serve as an incentive for people to buy coverage.

However, there is some question about how many people will actually pay the penalties. A recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office found that a little more than 1 percent of Americans will end up paying it, in large part because of exemptions granted by the Obama administration.

Some of those exemptions cover people whose plans were cancelled because they did not meet the Affordable Care Act’s requirements.

Here is a list of draft IRS forms:

Insurance Coverage Reporting:

Individual Tax Forms:

  • Form 1040-A:  Individual Income Tax Return
  • Form 1094-B:  Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns
  • Form 1094-C:  Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Return
  • Form 8962:  Premium Tax Credit
  • Form 8965:  Health Care Coverage Exemptions

For Alzheimer’s, Drugs Come More Slowly, but Tests on Horizon

The Economist magazine this week points out that efforts have slowed recently in developing drug treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease. However, the article highlights progress in developing tests to identify early indicators of Alzheimer’s.

Full story

July 24, 2014

Medical Credit Card Industry Sized Up by GAO

A group of congressional Democrats last year requested a Government Accountability Office report on companies offering “third party consumer financial products” through medical credit cards and installment loans to cover selected health procedures not normally covered by insurance.

Full story

$330 Million in Premium Rebate Checks Are Coming

The Department of Health and Human Services today highlights one of the dividends stemming from the 2010 health care overhaul. HHS this morning announced the tally of this year’s consumer health insurance premium rebates.

Full story

July 23, 2014

Democrats Press for E-Cigarette Regulations

487318591 445x296 Democrats Press for E Cigarette Regulations

Kyle Stamm of New York smokes an e-cigarette at Henley Vaporium on April 29 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

A group of senators has ramped up concerns about the safety of electronic cigarettes.

CQ Roll Call’s Melissa Attias reports that the Democrats, who previously focused on the children’s health concerns related to e-cigarette flavorings, are now focusing on new legislation that seeks to target the packaging containing the liquid that fuels e-cigarettes.

Full story

By Paul Jenks Posted at 3:30 p.m.
Consumer Affairs

FDA Chief In India Departs

CQ HealthBeat’s Kerry Young reports on the departure of the Food and Drug Administration’s India office chief, Altaf Lal.

Full story

Labor-HHS-Education Appropriator Loses Senate Bid

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Kingston, center, at the 53rd Congressional Baseball Game in Nationals Park, on June 25. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The chairman of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Jack Kingston, R-Ga., was defeated in a bid to seek a Senate seat. Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad has much more  on the results of Georgia primary runoff election, which has jolted the future plans of the House appropriations “cardinal.”

Full story

Today’s Spotlight: Fraudulent Insurance Subsidies

A House Ways and Means oversight panel this morning examines the process for applying for the health care overhaul’s premium tax credits. The insurance subsidies are at the center of two contrasting court decisions released on Tuesday from court panels in Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Va.

This hearing, however, isn’t about the legality of the subsidies themselves — it’s about cases where people may have fraudulently attained such benefits.

Full story

July 22, 2014

Separate Appeals Court Validates Subsidies

In a dueling series of federal appellate court rulings today, a separate decision from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., ruled that tax subsidies for health plans  are allowed for both state and federally operated exchanges.

Full story

White House Responds to Court Decision on 2010 Overhaul (Video)

The White House press spokesman Josh Earnest today responded to federal appeals court panel ruling that health care overhaul law subsidies only apply to insurance exchanges formally established by the states.  The White House insists its legal case will prevail and anticipates the Department of Justice will ask the full court to review the decision.

Full story

Today’s Spotlight: VA Secretary Confirmation Hearing

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McDonald speaks with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on July 10 on Capitol Hill. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee this afternoon holds a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Robert A. McDonald to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is likely that many questions for McDonald will focus on the VA’s health care organizational culture and management.

Full story

Nuclear Agency Adjusts Radiation Treatment Rules

A variety of regulatory agencies supervise the delivery of health care. Perhaps the most overlooked agency is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC is responsible for monitoring the safety in the use of radiation treatments using radioactive byproduct materials.

Full story

By Paul Jenks Posted at 8:59 a.m.
Cancer

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