AUCD Legislative News In Brief

December 5, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  December 5, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 48
Subscribe to AUCD InBrief  |  AUCD InBrief Archive  | RSS  |  AUCD InBrief Archive

Congressional Schedule
The House and Senate are both in session this week and lawmakers have a lot of work to complete before they adjourn for the year.  They must finish work on the FY 2012 annual appropriations bills, now five weeks after the start of the fiscal year.  Congress is also trying to come to agreement on several issues that were supposed to have been resolved by the "Super Committee."  These include working out a deal to extend the Social Security payroll tax holiday that was initiated last year to temporarily stimulate the economy and trying to prevent cuts in payments to doctors who take Medicare patients.  The House may take up legislation to restrain the federal regulatory process later in the week.  The Senate could vote on a version of a balanced budget amendment as early as this week; the House version of the amendment failed to pass that chamber last month.

FY 2012 Appropriations
With nine of the twelve annual spending bills still being negotiated, most federal programs are operating under a continuing resolution (short-term spending bill) that will expire on December 16.  House and Senate leaders are considering a couple of strategies for finishing FY 2012 appropriations, including an omnibus package that includes all nine remaining bills.  However, because the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill is the largest and most controversial, some have speculated that Congress may opt to fund Labor, HHS, and Education programs through a year-long continuing resolution with a slight decrease from fiscal 2011 funding levels.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved Thursday HR 1173, a bill to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program in the Affordable Care Act.  The CLASS program is a national, voluntary insurance program designed to help participants pay for their long-term services and supports needs in order to continue working and contributing in their communities.  Three Democrats voted with all committee Republicans in favor of repeal: Reps. Mike Ross (D-AR), John Barrow (D-GA), and Jim Matheson (D-UT).  The next step is for the full House to vote on the measure.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to contact your Representative about protecting the CLASS program.

Regulatory Restraint Bills
AUCD signed onto a coalition letter opposing the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA)(H.R. 3010/S. 1606) and the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011 (H.R. 10/S. 299).  These proposals would require congressional approval of new regulations and add 60 additional requirements to the rulemaking process, making it extremely difficult for federal agencies to implement and enforce laws.  The RAA was passed by the House of Representatives on December 2.  The full House is scheduled to vote on the REINS Act on Wednesday.  While these bills may garner enough support to pass the House, they are not likely to survive in the Senate and the President has already issued statements of his intent to veto the measures if they reach his desk.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to contact your Representative about the REINS Act.

Health Care Reform
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule on the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) provision of the Affordable Care Act.  The law requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of customer premiums on medical care (rather than administrative costs or salaries), or issue rebates to consumers.  Rebates can be given in the form of lower premiums or "in other ways that are not taxable."  Additionally, the final rule requires issuers to provide notice of rebates, if any, to current group health plan subscribers as well as group policyholders, and to subscribers in the individual market.  The Department of Labor also issued guidance regarding group plans.

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.

For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website:

AUCD | 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1000 | Silver Spring | MD | 20910