Broker Bill Gets House Energy And Commerce Committee OK

English: Harry Reid speaking at the State Chil...

English: Harry Reid speaking at the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Art Exhibit Press Conference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Barrow, U.S. Congressman.

John Barrow, U.S. Congressman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Politics, Health Reform

Sep 21, 2012

The House panel approved legislation that would modify the health law’s medical loss ratio provision to protect the earnings of insurance brokers and agents.

CQ HealthBeat: Health Insurance Broker, Secondary Payer Bills Advance In House
A House panel signed off on controversial legislation Thursday that would modify a consumer protection provision in the 2010 health care overhaul. The measure, which the Energy and Commerce Committee approved 26-14, would amend the law’s provision on medical loss ratios (MLR) in an effort to protect the earnings of insurance brokers and agents. John Barrow of Georgia was the lone Democrat to vote in favor of the bill, while all of the panel’s Republicans supported it (Khatami, 9/20).

Politico Pro: Energy And Commerce OKs Broker Bill
In the end, Rep. John Barrow found himself all out on his own. Barrow (D-Ga.), the co-sponsor of a bill shielding agent and broker commissions from the health care law’s medical loss ratio requirement, was the only Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who voted to advance the bill Thursday. The committee approved the bill on a 26-14 vote. But it’s likely to have much more Democratic support if it gets to the full House floor. The agent and broker groups say their livelihoods are threatened by the ACA’s limits on what insurers can spend using premium dollars, besides the actual cost of medical care. By lumping in broker commissions with insurers’ administrative spending, the groups say their members have seen their revenue cut between 20 and 50 percent and have suffered job losses as a direct result (Millman, 9/20).

Also, a House oversight committee takes a long look at alleged Medicaid overpayments to the state of New York —

The Wall Street Journal: State Accused Of $15 Billion Fraud Scheme
A congressional oversight committee on Thursday accused New York of overbilling Medicaid by billions of dollars by inflating reimbursement payments to its state-run institutions for the mentally disabled. In a scathing report, the Republican-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said New York overcharged taxpayers by $15 billion since 1990 (Gershman, 9/20).

CQ HealthBeat: Medicaid Official Defends Work To Limit Overpayments In New York
Republicans who called a hearing planning to grill an Obama administration official about Medicaid overpayments to New York State instead ended up praising the Democratic administration’s work. Medicaid has grossly overpaid New York to house developmentally disabled beneficiaries, and that money has not yet been recouped. However, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle seem satisfied at the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing that Obama’s Medicaid officials are dealing with the issue, which predated this administration (Adams, 9/20).

In other news, National Journal reports that health lobbyists are working hard to persuade lawmakers to delay the automatic $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts generated by last year’s debt ceiling deal. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports on a delay in the Senate regarding a vote on the short-term spending bill to keep government operating.

National Journal: Health Lobbyists Swarming On The Hill
The impending sequestration cuts are not lost on health care lobbyists, who are undertaking an intense effort to persuade Congress to stop them, National Journal Daily reports today. … Although most of Washington expects that Congress will delay the automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts to government spending before the end of this year, health lobbying groups from myriad industries are taking the threat seriously. And they are letting lawmakers and their staff know about the consequences of letting the automatic cuts hit–making their case directly to politicians, rather than to the voters who will decide whether to keep them in office. One point that bolsters the lobbyists’ argument? Jobs (McCarthy and Catalini, 9/20).

The Washington Post: Senate Delays Votes On Short-Term Spending Bill
There appears to be no doubt on the final passage of a bill to provide funding for government agencies when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Federal spending would be capped at $1.047 trillion, a limit agreed to last summer as part of the bipartisan debt ceiling negotiations. The bill cleared a key procedural vote Wednesday. But Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) began threatening to hold votes on final passage this weekend after Republicans objected to his plans to hold a vote on Paul’s proposal (O’Keefe, 9/20).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.


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