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On the Hill: ACA, IPAB, Medical Device Tax, Medicare Advantage

This week Congress is busy considering health care measures. In the House, lawmakers are preparing for the impending King v. Burwell Supreme Court decision expected later this month. The decision will determine whether lower-income enrollees in federally facilitated health insurance marketplaces can receive federal tax credits to reduce premium costs. The outcome could have a large impact on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As lawmakers wait for the outcome, they are considering other measures that  would repeal provisions of the law.

For example, the House will consider legislation to repeal the ACA-imposed medical device tax, which has received criticism since its enactment from the medical device manufacturing industry. The provision requires device manufacturers to pay a 2.3 percent tax on the sale price of taxable medical devices. The chamber will also consider a measure to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The ACA-established IPAB is a 15-person board appointed by the president and tasked with extending Medicare solvency and reducing spending growth. The IPAB is expected to generate more than $15 billion in Medicare savings over 10 years. It has authority to create and recommend implementation of Medicare program policies to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services with little time and opportunity for input from Congress.

America’s Essential Hospitals supports repeal of the IPAB, as the panel’s recommendations could be harmful to Medicare policies, such as provider reimbursements, that are critical for essential hospitals. However, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) has proposed an amendment to the repeal legislation that would pay for the cost of repealing the IPAB by making cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which funds valuable investments in public health initiatives across the country. America’s Essential Hospitals sent a letter to Capitol Hill today expressing support for the underlying repeal legislation but opposing the Pitts amendment.

Before week’s end, the House will also vote on four Medicare Advantage-related bills that passed through the House Committee on Ways and Means last week:

In committee business, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing today to examine H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and the Including Families in Mental Health Recovery Act. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions also held a hearing today focusing on health information technology.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Wiles is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.