On June 24, the House passed the “Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010,” which will increase Medicare reimbursement to physicians by 2.2 percent through November 30, 2010. President Obama signed the legislation into law on June 25. Amy Hall, Director of the Office of Legislation at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a notice to Hill staff explaining that Medicare physician “claims containing June 2010 dates of services which have been paid at the negative update rates will be reprocessed as soon as possible.” The notification indicated that contractors have been instructed to stop processing claims with the 21 percent cut and to hold claims for services provided in June until the 2.2 percent update is loaded into the claims processing systems.
After eight weeks of consideration of various versions of the “American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010” (H.R. 4213) that would extend the Medicaid FMAP funding increase, COBRA insurance, and unemployment benefits, the Senate continues to be in a holding pattern. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid most recently failed to get 60 Senators to support cloture on June 24. Senator Ben Nelson voted with Republicans to block the measure. The majority has not signaled whether it will try to pass another version this week, but it is the last week Congress is in session before the week-long July 4th recess.
HHS has two major deadlines mandated by the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, this week – the Department must establish high-risk pools and launch a health insurance web portal by July 1. Thirty-one states have agreed to run their own high-risk pools, while 20 states will have pools administered by the federal government.
This week the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on H.R.5504, the “Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act.” The bipartisan bill aims to improve the meals children eat both in and out of schools, as well as support community efforts to reduce childhood hunger. Additionally, the legislation establishes nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. The Senate Agriculture Committee has already marked-up its version of a child nutrition reauthorization bill, which awaits floor time.