On Tuesday, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee proposed draft legislation -- an updated version of an April draft -- to repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula. SGR determines Medicare physician reimbursements. Modern Healthcare et al.
On Tuesday, the California Senate failed to advance a bill aimed at curbing prescription drug misuse and overdose deaths in the state. Under the proposed legislation, CURES -- a prescription monitoring program that tracks patients' prescription drug history -- would have received funds through an increase in annual licensing fees on prescribers, including physicians and pharmacists, for program maintenance and upgrades. Los Angeles Times.
Sugary drink consumption has reached "a tipping point," and with 40% of California children overweight, it is time to implement a tax on sweetened beverages, Sen. Bill Monning and Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, write in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece. They note that SB 622 -- authored by Monning -- will generate $1.7 billion annually for nutrition education and other anti-obesity efforts by levying a penny-per-ounce tax on such drinks. Sacramento Bee.
A new report finds that the trend of employers reducing workers' hours and health coverage options began before the Affordable Care Act was passed. The report says the percentage of part-time workers increased by 5.3% from 2007 to 2011. The Hill's "Healthwatch," CQ HealthBeat.
A Families USA poll finds that although few adults living in the Deep South have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, nearly two-thirds support the ACA's Medicaid expansion. All of the states surveyed are led by GOP governors who have opted not to expand their Medicaid programs. The Hill's "Healthwatch" et al.
On Monday, the state Senate unanimously approved a bill, by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, that would let counties to use Proposition 63 money for Laura's Law, which allows courts to require treatment for residents with severe mental health conditions and a history of violence or hospitalization. Prop. 63 -- also known as the Mental Health Services Act -- raises $1 billion a year through a 1% tax on residents with incomes greater than $1 million annually. The bill now moves to the Assembly. AP/Sacramento Bee.
At a UC Regents meeting on Wednesday, 13 health care workers were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly during a sit-down protest where they threatened to strike at the system's medical centers. AFSCME 3299 -- the union that represents about 13,000 patient-care technical workers -- last week voted to authorize the two-day strike for May 21 and 22. However, UC is seeking a court injunction to block the planned strike, arguing that it would harm patients. Los Angeles Times.
According to Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act could increase the federal deficit by at least $109 billion over 10 years. The House is scheduled to vote today on a bill that would eliminate the ACA. The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" et al.
On Saturday, 1,500 job seekers in the Fresno area took written exams as part of the hiring process for the Covered California state insurance exchange call center. Saturday's applicants, as well as 1,300 people who took the exam in April, are vying for 500 jobs at the call center. Fresno Bee.
The Congressional Budget Office has lowered its estimates for the number of individuals and businesses likely to be affected by the Affordable Care Act's taxes and mandates. CBO also reduced its projections for U.S. spending on Medicare and Medicaid. The Hill's "Healthwatch" et al.
During a court hearing on Tuesday, an attorney for CalPERS said that San Bernardino has enough money to pay off its debts to the retirement system. The city filed for bankruptcy in August 2012, saying it was overwhelmed by pension debt and did not have enough money to keep making payments to CalPERS. The attorney said that the city had $26.8 million as of January, even though San Bernardino officials said they only had $4.2 million on hand. Reuters.
Debate continues over a bill that would remove unhealthy food from vending machines in state facilities. Proponents say the state should not contribute to rising health costs, while opponents argue that elected officials should not govern what people eat. Los Angeles Times.
Health issues and health care costs are the most pressing concerns for U.S. residents near retirement age, according to a new survey by Merrill Lynch. Most survey respondents cited serious health problems as their most significant concern about living a long life. In addition, respondents listed concerns about the sustainability of federal health programs and unexpected medical expenses as their primary concerns about health care costs. Reuters.
New data released today by CMS show that hospitals across the country charge Medicare a wide range of amounts for the same procedure. An analysis of the data shows that California is among the states with some of the highest hospital charges in the nation. New York Times et al.
Contrary to the popular health insurance "cost-shifting" theory, reducing Medicare payment rates for hospital inpatient care does not accelerate growth in private insurers' costs, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs. Researchers found that when Medicare payment rates were reduced by 10% from 1995 to 2009, private insurance payment rates dropped by 3% to 8% during that time. Politico.