“Week of December 13, 2010
As policymakers focus greater attention on how to control health care spending, they would be wise to examine a new study published in the journal Health Affairs. A study published in the December edition found that per capita Medicare health care spending in two Texas communities was slowed significantly when private insurance paid the bill. The authors point to insurers’ utilization review, or medical management, programs as likely playing a role in the results.
Aetna Chairman Ronald A. Williams, who has announced he will retire from Aetna in April 2011, was featured in the New York Times last week. Check out his assessment of the new health care reform law and the political process, as described in the Times.
By an overwhelming vote of 409 to 2, the House last week approved a 12-month (all of 2011) Medicare reimbursement or “doc fix” bill (previously approved by the Senate) and shipped it off to the President for his certain signature. By this bill Congress has once again halted a physician cut in Medicare reimbursement at the 11th hour. This time the cut would have been 26 percent. And, unlike the developing deal on the Bush era tax cuts, the doc fix legislation is fully offset (paid for) by a number of provisions, including an increase in the amount or repayment owed by recipients of subsidies under health care reform if their income goes up and they no longer qualify for a subsidy.
While Congress is scheduled to leave town December 17, it is increasingly likely that it will stick around until the 24th in order to deal with the remaining list of must-do items, including the START Treaty (less likely), extension of the Bush era tax cuts (more likely), and a Continuing Resolution to keep the government afloat (very likely). Repeal of the 1099 requirement imposed on small business is very likely to be pushed off until 2011 as Republicans in the House want to wait until they are in power (to take “credit” for the repeal).”