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Medicare

October 24, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees Oct. 24 broke off negotiations until after the weekend, missing their second target date for agreement in as many weeks amid a partisan stand-off on the House bill's plan to put Medicare in competition with private plans.

Nevertheless, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) said the conference would reach a conceptual agreement by the middle of next week and emphasized there would be no renegotiation of this deal once it is settled.

October 23, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees have agreed to embrace the Senate bill's government-sponsored fallback drug plan but have decided to adopt the House bill's trigger for its use, making it less likely that the fallback will be implemented, according to informed sources.

October 23, 2003 | Daily News

On the eve of a targeted Medicare conference deadline, a tripartisan group of Senate lawmakers have called on President Bush to support a bipartisan conference bill and have outlined issues they say must be addressed to gain their support. The move signals troubled waters for the conference bill as the issues the senators oppose are key provisions Medicare conference chair Bill Thomas (R-CA) reportedly is advocating in a closely held draft proposal.

October 23, 2003 | Daily News

The American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) are hailing a new General Accounting Office (GAO) report as further proof of the negative impact they claim boutique specialty hospitals have on full-service community hospitals.

October 23, 2003 | Daily News

The Department of Justice has signed off on new drug patent reform language that erases DOJ's constitutionality concerns with the "declaratory judgment" provision included in the Senate Medicare bill. The proposed declaratory judgment compromise is now being reviewed by Medicare conferees.

October 21, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees are considering a prescription drug benefit that combines more generous coverage for drug expenses under $2,200 -- the House bill's plan to target the benefit towards the level of drug expenses incurred by most seniors -- with subsidies for low-income beneficiaries like those found in the Senate bill.

October 20, 2003 | Daily News

Key senators involved in the Medicare conference are looking to wrap up a deal this week in order to allow sufficient time to complete legal drafting and obtain cost projections on the mammoth prescription drug legislation in advance of votes by both chambers in early November.

October 17, 2003 | Daily News

Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) has initiated a bipartisan campaign to press Medicare conferees to prevent pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from administering a Medicare drug plan and selling drugs through their mail order businesses in the same Medicare region.

October 17, 2003 | Daily News

On the day slated for completion of the Medicare conference report, negotiators Oct. 17 began to delve in earnest into the most politically controversial issues -- the House bill's plan to put fee-for-service Medicare in competition with private plans and the Senate bill's government-run fallback prescription drug plan.

Conferees let the deadline pass without announcement of either a framework agreement or summation of earlier tentative accords on major issues, such as the means-testing of beneficiary premiums for outpatient services.

October 15, 2003 | Daily News

Senate staff is floating a new proposal on declaratory judgment -- one of the most controversial drug patent reform issues in the Medicare drug benefit legislation -- in a bid to address concerns that the Senate-passed provision is unconstitutional, according to a drug industry source. The compromise is being discussed as part of the conference discussions on the Medicare bill.

October 15, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees Oct. 14 discussed whether to provide tax breaks to small and mid-size employers who pre-fund retiree health benefits as part of a larger proposed agreement to use a $20 billion projected revenue stream to fund the new employer tax incentive as well as the tax breaks for health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible savings accounts (FSAs) attached to the House Medicare bill, according to congressional sources.

October 15, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees are considering a plan to supplement proposed subsidies for retiree drug coverage with a tax credit to encourage employers to maintain coverage, lawmakers and private sector sources said.

"Tax credits, incentives are probably the way it's going to go," House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee chairman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) said prior to the Sept. 30 meeting of conferees.

October 14, 2003 | Daily News

The pharmacy sector has added its voice to a call for Medicare conferees to create an independently developed and voluntary electronic prescribing program that preserves the physician-patient-pharmacist relationship and choice of pharmacy.

October 14, 2003 | Daily News

The target date for passage of a Medicare conference report has been pushed back to the end of the month, with the final provider package expected to be one of the last issues resolved, according to industry and congressional sources.

"The goal is to get it done by the end of the month," Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said during an Oct. 7 Galen Institute forum. That deadline could still slip, Ryan cautioned, but noted further delays would cut into the November congressional recess and meetings scheduled with constituents.

October 10, 2003 | Daily News

In an Oct. 1 letter to Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) the Rural Hospital Coalition lays out its priorities for the Medicare conference, including deletion of the House bill's cut to the market basket update for all hospitals. Grassley has been seeking industry support for his effort to roll back the proposed cut, which would yield $12 billion in savings. The coalition, which represents almost 15 percent of the nation's rural hospitals, promises to help with final passage of a bill.

October 10, 2003 | Daily News

A prominent House conservative this week urged his wing of the GOP to remain engaged in the Medicare negotiations, warning that simply opposing a new $400 billion drug benefit could kill prospects for wider Medicare reform in the House bill and doom the program to insolvency.

October 10, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees are considering expanding CMS' Center for Beneficiary Choices (CBC) so it can administer Medicare's prescription drug benefit and private plans instead of creating a new HHS agency to do the job, according to informed sources.

The idea is to have a beefed-up CBC gradually assume the new function. It would build upon CBC's existing infrastructure rather than establish an entire new agency by early next year as called for under the House and Senate plans.

October 09, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees have reopened an agreement in principle reached last week to extend Medicare prescription drug coverage to beneficiaries who are also Medicaid eligible, pending agreement on how to claw back more of the savings from state Medicaid programs and how the change would affect benefits for the near-poor, advocates and congressional sources said.

October 09, 2003 | Daily News

The House Ways and Means Committee is floating the possibility of a steeper cut to hospitals' 2004 Medicare reimbursements, proposing to trim 0.55 percent off the inflation adjustment for inpatient reimbursements instead of the 0.4 percent cut now in the House bill, according to informed sources.

October 09, 2003 | Daily News

In an unexpected result, the House this week soundly rejected a Republican motion instructing Medicare conferees to use means testing to help defray the cost of Congress' prescription drug bill. The defeat comes as Medicare conferees mull proposals to charge wealthier beneficiaries more under Medicare.

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