Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

Posts in "Budget/Appropriations"

August 20, 2014

IRS Struggles to Collect the Medical Device Excise Tax

Funding for the 2010 Affordable Care Act hinges, in part, on a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales. The tax applies to cardiac defibrillators, imaging equipment and a variety of other equipment sold to hospitals, doctors and other providers. Congressional efforts to eliminate the tax enjoy significant bipartisan support in Congress from Republicans and Democrats, particularly from states that are home to a concentration of medical device manufacturers.

Internal Revenue Service collection of the tax began in 2013. A Treasury Department’s Inspector General report released on Tuesday indicates that taxpayer reporting on the IRS excise tax form does not account for all applicable medical device sales. Also, the tax agency is struggling to reconcile data provided by taxpayers and cannot accurately identify all of the medical device makers that are required to file the form and pay the tax. Through the first half of 2013, Treasury auditors estimate that the tax levy should have collected $1.2 billion in excise taxes, but the IRS has received $913 million.

August 8, 2014

Ebola Crisis Prompts CDC Funding Questions (Video)

A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing Thursday on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa prompted a discussion on Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding levels. The lead agency responding to the Ebola crisis is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is funded through the HHS budget. The chairman of the House panel questioned whether enough money was available for CDC programs designed to prepare for a pandemic health crisis. CQ HealthBeat’s Kerry Young reported that a senior GOP appropriator, also attending the hearing, inquired about the need to shift current HHS funding toward toward addressing the CDC response to the Ebola crisis.

However, the HHS budget is already subject to separate transfers to cover new expenses from an influx of migrant children at the border with Mexico. A HHS agency, the Administration for Children and Families, is responsible for housing and care for the migrant children. The administration requested emergency program funding for HHS border relief efforts, but Congress was unable to reach an agreement on supplemental spending prior to the August congressional recess.

Neither the House nor Senate has passed a fiscal 2015 spending bill for HHS, whose appropriations are frequently stymied by disputes over additional spending for the implementation of the 2010 health care law. When Congress returns in September, appropriators could offer additional HHS pandemic response funding in separate planned action on a stopgap continuing spending resolution which would extend funding for all federal agencies past the Oct. 1 start of the new federal fiscal year.

 

August 1, 2014

Drug Coverage Premiums and Spending Forecast Remain Low

The Department of Health and Human Services  has announced a slight increase in the Medicare Part D program’s premiums for next year. The prescription drug benefit, first implemented in 2006, now offers drug coverage to 39 million people.

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$1.1 Trillion Axed From Long-Term Estimates on Federal Health Care Spending

In July, two pivotal scorekeepers on federal spending issued annual reports on the long-term outlook for federal health care spending. Full story

Next Year’s Battle: CHIP Funding

At this time next year, a major battle will be brewing in Congress over the renewal of funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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July 31, 2014

Veterans’ Health Bill Sails Toward Passage

The Senate today is expected to overwhelmingly approve a compromise veterans’ health bill, clearing it for President Barack Obama’s signature. The measure would provide $10 billion for non-Veterans Affairs health care services to veterans’ who cannot schedule appointments at a veterans’ medical center and offers $5 billion to the VA to hire additional staff and upgrade facilities to meet demands for health care.

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July 29, 2014

Medicare Trustees Report Extends Trust Fund Solvency

The trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds on Monday released their annual report. The trustees projected that due to lower health care spending the Medicare hospital inpatient trust fund will be depleted in 2030, four years later than estimated last year.

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July 28, 2014

Retiring Appropriator Seeks to Steady Medical Research Funding

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Harkin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Labor-HHS-Education spending subcommittee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is retiring at the end of the year. Ahead of his departure, the Iowa Democrat has introduced a bill that seeks to steady medical research funding for the National Institutes of Health.

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Veterans’ Health Bill Compromise Set After Weekend Talks

A compromise struck by House and Senate negotiators on Sunday on veterans’ medical care legislation would provide $15 billion in up-front emergency funds to help ease lengthy wait times at VA medical facilities, according to plan summary obtained by CQ Roll Call.

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July 23, 2014

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.”

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July 18, 2014

Military Cigarette Discounts Get Sen. Durbin’s Attention

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Durbin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators this week approved their version of a fiscal 2015 Defense spending bill. While the measure includes Pentagon health program spending, the bill also focuses lawmakers’ attention on specific health concerns for military personnel. The Defense Subcommittee chief, Illinois Democrat Richard J. Durbin, urged the Pentagon to implement a provision that would eliminate military commissary discounts on cigarettes, in a effort to reduce tobacco-related illnesses.

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July 17, 2014

Today’s Spotlight: Pentagon Health Spending

Health care policy mavens are likely to congregate at a House hearing this morning on medical technology innovation. However, Congress is in the middle of the annual appropriations bill season and the Senate Appropriations Committee will be marking up a bill with a large health care component — the fiscal 2015 Defense spending bill.

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July 15, 2014

IRS’s Role in Health Care Law Is Targeted in House Spending Bill

The House today continues amendment votes on the fiscal 2015 Financial Services spending bill. Health care proposals in the legislation focus on the more than 40 provisions in the 2010 health care law that task the IRS with verifying consumer health insurance exchange subsidies, administering premium tax credits and enforcing the individual and employer health coverage mandates.

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July 14, 2014

Amid Spending Bill Deadlock, House Appropriator Seeks Senate Seat

kingston 11 051311 445x295 Amid Spending Bill Deadlock, House Appropriator Seeks Senate Seat

Kingston. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional appropriators are struggling with the fiscal 2015 spending bills, and both the House and Senate versions of the Labor-HHS-Education bill have not yet to emerged from the committee level. The House subcommittee for the bill is led by Georgia Republican Jack Kingston, who is also vying for his party’s nomination in a July 22 primary runoff election for a Senate seat.

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VA Health Bill Deadlock Continues Despite a Reduced Cost Estimate

A House-Senate conference committee tasked with writing a compromise veterans’ health bill continues to struggle with a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate for what it will take to allow veterans to seek care from private health care providers and avoid notorious treatment delays at veterans’ medical centers.

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