Budget Proposals Have Democrats, Republicans Far Apart

Healthcare spending is at the center of conflict between Democratic and Republican budget proposals in the House and Senate.

While a proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) repeals the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including Medicaid expansion and subsidies for buying insurance through health insurance exchanges, the budget proposal from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) includes $275 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

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Permanent Fix To SGR Introduced

Earlier this week, the House introduced legislation to permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. The bill follows new data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this week that significantly lowers the estimates of how much it will cost to repeal the SGR.

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Fiscal Cliff Averted, 2% Medicare Sequester Cut Looms

Last week, the House voted in favor of a legislative package approved by the Senate in the early hours of the morning that postponed a 26.5% cut to physician pay rates mandated by the sustainable growth rate formula (SGR).

But the latest efforts only freezes doctor pay rates only through the end of 2013, when the formula is set, once again, to slash rates without a legislative revision.  A 2% Medicare sequester cut set for March also looms.

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Fiscal Cliff Averted: Doc Fix Cuts Hospital Payments

An agreement to halt the fiscal cliff won approval in the House late Tuesday evening with a 257 to 167 vote to pass the compromise measure.

Though the legislation, passed by Congress on New Year’s Day, would stop a scheduled 26.5% payment cut in Medicare physician payments, however over the next decade, hospitals pick up nearly half  of the approximately $30 billion cost of stopping those cuts.

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Senate Approves Bill To Avert Fiscal Cliff, Vote Moves To House

Early this morning, the Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of a fiscal cliff deal that would extend tax rates on annual household income under $450,000 and postpones automatic spending cuts for two months.

The bill was approved in an 89-8 vote that came after only 10 minutes of formal floor debate and no official score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The vote puts pressure on the House to approve the legislation, though it is uncertain if they will back a bill lacking the deep spending cuts conservatives have been calling for.

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Breaking News: No Vote On Fiscal Cliff

Though a deal to avert the fiscal cliff was reportedly in sight, but not yet finalized, NBC News is reporting there will not be a vote tonight. The emerging deal was said to raise tax rates on family income over $450,000 and individual income over $400,000 a year, increase the estate tax rate and extend unemployment benefits for one year.

Stay tuned to the HMS blog for more details as they emerge.

House Voting To Repeal Healthcare Reform Law

HMS Healthcare Management SolutionsLater today, the House will vote a second time to repeal the entire healthcare reform law, giving members a chance to weigh in following the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is constitutional.

The House has voted to end three programs created by the law and to halt or rescind funding for seven of the law’s provisions. And even if today’s vote never gets signed into law by President Obama, Republicans have vow to keep trying.

Stay tuned to the HMS blog for more information on the vote, which is expected to pass on a mostly party-line vote.