Legislative

House committees release healthcare reform plan outline

Chairmen of three House committees Friday released a draft outline of healthcare reform legislation as Democrats push to pass a bill by August.

Senate Aging Committee to focus on emergency preparedness

Best practices for assisting seniors and the disabled before, during and after natural or manmade disasters will be the topic of a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing Wednesday morning. Local, state and federal officials, including LuMarie Polivka-West, MSP, senior vice president of policy for the Florida Health Care Association, will testify at the hearing. Florida long-term care officials have been among the leaders in designing policies and practices for dealing with hurricanes and other disaster scenarios. Topics will include terrorism preparedness and responses.

Republicans hammer away at HELP plan, introduce reform measure

Republicans hammer away at HELP plan, introduce reform measure

Republicans have offered their own version of healthcare reform as they continue to criticize legislation from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP).

Cantwell-Kohl bill would create incentives for states to increase home- and community-based services at the expense of nursing homes

Cantwell-Kohl bill would create incentives for states to increase home- and community-based services at the expense of nursing homes

A newly proposed bill would reform long-term care by offering more Medicaid money to states for home- and community-based healthcare programs.

President, Congress heat up healthcare reform efforts

President Obama and top lawmakers will intensify healthcare reform efforts next week, both in Washington and on the road. Reform measures under discussion potentially have wide-ranging implications for long-term care providers. First, Obama will return to his hometown of Chicago for just the second time since being sworn in. On Monday, he'll address the American Medical Association's policy-making House of Delegates. He'll be the first president to formally address the influential doctors' group since 1983. Then, at mid-week, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the chairman of the Finance Committee, plans to begin weeklong negotiations in committee on healthcare reform legislation.

Some believe Kennedy's absence from Washington may affect outcome of healthcare reform

While Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) is considered the architect of the Affordable Health Choices Act bill, he was not on Capitol Hill when the pivotal bill was introduced Tuesday. Some wonder if his notable absence--due to cancer--will slow down the healthcare reform process or change its final result.

Obama endorses letting Medicare Payment Advisory Commission set payment rates

Obama endorses letting Medicare Payment Advisory Commission set payment rates

The move to empower the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee to enact its own policy proposals gained significant traction last week when President Obama said in a letter to lawmakers that he would be open to the idea as a way to reduce healthcare costs.

Editors' Blog: Holding back the hounds on LTC reform

Something was missing Thursday when providers stormed Capitol Hill: A flag bearer for long-term care reform.

Kohl introduces bill to increase long-term care insurance use but cautions about over-reliance

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) has introduced legislation that would encourage the purchase of long-term care insurance. But he also emphasized during a Wednesday hearing of the Special Committee on Aging, which he chairs, that long-term care insurance still may not be for everyone and "should not be considered as a cure-all."

Nursing home advocates converging on U.S. lawmakers to demand better Medicare reimbursement

More than 300 nursing home owners and operators are expected to meet in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday to try to persuade lawmakers to be generous with Medicare funding. The Obama budget proposal for fiscal 2010, combined with a standard marketbasket update, would leave providers about $330 million, or about $17 per resident day, below this year's payment levels. Providers will be taking their cues from top lobbyists at the American Health Care Association's spring conference before storming Capitol Hill for visits with their Congressmen and Senators. "Top policy issues will be Medicare funding, the proposals for bundling of post-acute payments, and defeating arbitration legislation that would prohibit the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements," an AHCA spokeswoman said.

Rockefeller introduces bill making MedPAC independent executive branch agency

Rockefeller introduces bill making MedPAC independent executive branch agency

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) is a legislative entity whose purpose is to advise Congress on matters of Medicare reimbursement rates and coverage policies. Now, one senator has introduced legislation that would transfer the agency to the executive branch and give it more political muscle.

Nursing homes caution against federal budget cuts in wake of governors' bleak budget predictions

Nursing homes caution against federal budget cuts in wake of governors' bleak budget predictions

Despite indications that the national economy is starting to rebound, the National Governors Association is warning that states' economies are still suffering, and that another bout of budget cuts could be on the horizon.

Senators say Medicare, Medicaid changes could help pay for healthcare reform

To pay for healthcare reform, lawmakers must consider a number of different options. Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) on Monday released a 41-page outline of financing options, which include possible changes to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policy.

Electronic health records timeline in stimulus bill could be unrealistic, senior health IT official says

Lawmakers might have underestimated how long it would take the healthcare industry to implement new healthcare information technology when setting a timeline for its adoption under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, one prominent healthcare official says.

Senate approves $1.5 billion in flu pandemic preparedness funding as Obama names infectious disease expert to lead CDC

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday unanimously voted to include $1.5 billion in pandemic preparedness in a defense and foreign aid spending bill. The move comes in the wake of the recent swine flu wave, and amidst revelations that lawmakers removed nearly $900 million in flu pandemic preparedness funding from the recent stimulus package.

White House, Senate 'compromises' pave way for Specter's support of labor bill

White House, Senate 'compromises' pave way for Specter's support of labor bill

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has held a number of different views on the Employee Free Choice Act in the last couple of years. Now, it looks as though the EFCA-supporter-turned-opponent may be shifting his position once more, recent reports suggest.

Pelosi: House to craft healthcare reform bill by July

Pelosi: House to craft healthcare reform bill by July

The House of Representatives will have a healthcare reform bill to vote on by the end of July, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Wednesday. She made the announcement alongside President Barack Obama and other leading Democratic representatives at the White House.

CMS threatens withholding stimulus funding if home health pay isn't reinstated

When the California state legislature act to reduce the state's maximum contribution to home healthcare workers' pay from $12.10 per hour to $10.10 per hour, it violated the terms of the recently passed federal stimulus package and therefore invalidates the state from receiving $6.8 billion in stimulus money, according to a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ruling.

Obama proposes $17 billion in budget cuts, programs for the elderly and poor threatened

Obama proposes $17 billion in budget cuts, programs for the elderly and poor threatened

President Obama on Thursday proposed cuts of $17 billion from his new budget for both discretionary spending and entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Various interest groups are expected to spar over which of 121 federal programs being eliminated or significantly curtailed should be spared.

Proposed bill could eliminate nursing home fines in Illinois

The Illinois state Legislature convened Wednesday to consider a controversial, first-of-its-kind proposal that would allow for the reduction, or in some cases, elimination of fines against nursing homes.

Political leaders offer various healthcare reform solutions

Over the weekend, five of the nation's leading voices on healthcare reform submitted essays to politico.com expressing their own opinions on the ongoing debate. And while their individual ideas may differ, they all agree the time is ripe for healthcare reform.

Baucus, Grassley propose 'bundling' of post-acute payments; nursing home groups object

Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) this week released several policy ideas for revamping America's healthcare delivery system. Many of these would affect the long-term care and post-acute care fields.

Congress passes $3.4 trillion budget blueprint

The House and Senate Wednesday approved a $3.4 trillion federal budget that would allow Congress to pass healthcare reform legislation without Republican opposition.

Specter becomes Democrat, but still opposes card check

Specter becomes Democrat, but still opposes card check

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, one of the most visible opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act, has announced he will be leaving the Republican Party to caucus with the Democrats. But don't expect a change of opinion toward the card-check bill, he says.

Sebelius named HHS secretary, faces swine flu challenge

The Senate late Tuesday confirmed Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The approval comes as the country grapples with a growing swine flu threat.

Congress poised to vote on budget resolution

The House and Senate are preparing to vote on a budget resolution agreement that includes instructions to fast-track healthcare reform legislation through the Senate.

Public plan option still on the table as healthcare reform debate continues

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) says all healthcare reform plans are still up for discussion. Meanwhile, Democrats on Capitol Hill are working to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a reform package, according to recent news reports.

Republicans block Senate vote on Sebelius confirmation

Republicans block Senate vote on Sebelius confirmation

Republican senators Thursday blocked a vote on the confirmation of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. That likely will hold up a Senate vote on the nomination for a week.

Most nursing home residents soon to receive $250 as part of stimulus bill

This time next month, long-term care residents should pay particularly close attention to their mail. That is because most are set to receive a one-time payment of $250 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus package.

Senate Finance Committee approves Sebelius for top spot at HHS

By a 15-8 vote Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee confirmed the nomination of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) for the role of secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The full Senate is expected to vote on her confirmation soon, though no date has been officially set.

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