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Medicare

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.

October 07, 2003 | Daily News

FDA is asking lawmakers negotiating a drug patent reform deal as part of the Medicare reform conference talks to ensure that provisions limiting treble damages and allowing innovators to view a generic applicant's confidential data do not impose new burdens on the agency, according to FDA Chief Counsel Dan Troy. The agency is also asking the conferees to change the effective date of the 30-month stay provision.

October 07, 2003 | Daily News

FDA Chief Counsel Daniel Troy says lawmakers charged with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the drug patent reform provisions in the Medicare bill should not rehash areas where the two bills are identical. Troy's statement, according to a drug industry source, signals the agency does not support brand-name drug company Eli Lilly's proposal to overhaul the bills' 180-day generic drug exclusivity provisions of the bills, despite the fact that the two are identical.

October 06, 2003 | Daily News

At the behest of Medicare conference staff, the ambulatory surgical center (ASC) industry has drafted a legislative roadmap for working toward a new ASC reimbursement and coverage system under Medicare, according to industry sources.

October 06, 2003 | Daily News

Nurse practitioners (NPs) will be able to serve as primary caregivers for their patients after they enroll in hospice programs for end-of-life health care if the Medicare bill passes with the agreements recently announced by conferees.

The conference report will include a provision empowering NPs to act as attending physicians for the purposes of hospice care, a congressional aide said. That language is in the House bill only.

October 06, 2003 | Daily News

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the generic drug industry will press Congress to pass a drug patent reform bill this year even if Medicare drug benefit legislation stalls. Schumer is a key architect of the drug patent reform provisions included in the House and Senate Medicare bills now in conference.

The issue of a fallback plan was discussed at the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 Institute for International Research (IIR) generic drug symposium.

October 03, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees have reached a tentative agreement on how to structure a new regional private health plan option, eliminating a cap of three preferred provider organizations per region. CMS Administrator Tom Scully charged the agreement could bust lawmakers' budget for the prescription drug bill and undermine administration support for increased payments to Medicare's current private insurers.

October 02, 2003 | Daily News

The brand-name and generic drug industries have made progress in reconciling their differences over a provision in Medicare drug legislation that would limit amendments and supplements to generic drug applications. The two groups discussed the issue on Sept. 30.

October 01, 2003 | Daily News

Ten senators, backed by medical technology and pharmaceutical manufacturers, are asking Medicare conferees to adopt the House bill's provision providing for increased payments for new medical technologies, while warning against attempts to lower the cost of the provision by raising the bar for qualifying new procedures for additional payments.

October 01, 2003 | Daily News

Editor's Note: This article has been modified to reflect a clarification from the American Ambulance Association the group continues to push for across-the-board reimbursement increases for both rural and urban providers.

The American Ambulance Association (AAA) voted last week to lobby Medicare conferees for a conference report that provides payment boosts to ambulance providers for services in all rural areas and increases payments based on population density -- providing higher payments to the more rural areas.

September 30, 2003 | Daily News

Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) has enlisted the support of eight House colleagues in an effort to urge House Medicare conferees to abandon their proposal to purchase durable medical equipment (DME) through competitive bidding or at a minimum include a special carve-out for diabetes monitoring equipment.

A Sept. 23 letter asks conferees to give "every consideration to the Senate language, which would freeze DME payments at the current levels."

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