This week, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before the House Committee on Ways and Means on the president’s budget, which the administration released last week. The HHS budget request of about $1 trillion includes $1.8 billion to run federal health insurance marketplaces. The secretary also is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies regarding the budget.
Later this week, the House will vote on legislation to permanently repeal the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment formula. It is expected Republican lawmakers will try to at least partially pay for the bill with a repeal or delay of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the federal government could save $9 billion for each year the mandate is delayed. Although the House is expected to pass the bill, the Senate is not expected to consider it. Instead, Congress is more likely to pass a nine- or 12-month patch to the existing SGR formula to avoid 24 percent cuts to Medicare physician payments. The current patch will expire March 31.