New Amendments to House Bill Unveiled, Setting Stage for Vote
On Tuesday, House Democrats released a manager's amendment to the chamber's health care reform bill (HR 3962), kicking off a 72-hour review period before House leaders can call the legislation to a floor vote, The Hill's "Blog Briefing Room" reports (O'Brien, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/3).
The vote could take place as soon as Friday, but Roll Call reports that the vote likely will be delayed until Saturday (Newmyer/Dennis, Roll Call, 11/3).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that he is sure the House will pass the bill by Tuesday at the latest (Newmyer, Roll Call, 11/3).
Under the amendment, state regulators would be granted $1 billion over four years to help oversee the insurance industry (O'Connor, "Live Pulse," Politico, 11/3).
Â In addition, health insurers that sell policies through new health insurance exchanges would be required to submit information on annual premium increases, which -- if judged to be excessive -- could mean expulsion from the exchange (Wayne, CQ Today, 11/4). As part of the provision, a hotline would be established for consumers to report abuse, fraud or waste (Newmyer/Dennis, Roll Call, 11/3).
In addition, the amendment makes adjustments to a provision in the bill that would terminate some of the antitrust exemptions for health and medical malpractice insurers. The amendment would allow insurers to continue some practices that could be considered in violation of antitrust laws, such as sharing history loss data.
The amendment also would grant an exemption to physician-owned hospitals that treat more Medicaid beneficiaries than their local competitors.
In addition, the amendment would:
- Require HHS to establish a system to measure the quality of care provided to Alzheimer's patients;
- Authorize $30 million in grants to community organizations in 2011 that screen for and treat mental illness and substance use;
- Improve diabetes screening programs;
- Allow HHS to withhold payments for 90 days to durable medical equipment suppliers in areas considered breeding grounds for fraud;
- Establish new offices of minority health -- similar to one at HHS -- at several other government health agencies;
- Require the HHS secretary to identify grant programs in the bill that might mirror existing programs; and
- Improve the collection of statistics and data from birth and death records (CQ Today, 11/4).
In an effort to address concerns over undocumented immigrants, the amendment adds language that would prohibit them from participating in new, national high-risk pools. The pools are intended to be a temporary solution for people with pre-existing conditions who are unable to obtain coverage before the insurance exchanges would be established in 2013.
The amendment also would establish immigration status verification requirements.
House Democrats still are trying to come up with a compromise over abortion provisions in the bill. According to Roll Call, they might consider a proposal by Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) that would require a private contractor to pay for abortion services instead of the government (Newmyer/Dennis, Roll Call, 11/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.