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Senate health care debate continues
On Tuesday, the Senate voted by a slim majority to begin debate on an ACA repeal bill. However, Republicans’ comprehensive repeal bill, which included amendments from Sens. Cruz and Portman, lacked the 60 votes it needed to sidestep a parliamentary objection. Today, Senators plan to consider a measure that would repeal the ACA without a replacement. The repeal-only bill is not expected to garner enough votes to pass, as many Senators worry it would leave Americans without health coverage.
Republicans are also considering a slew of different health bills, one of which is a “skinny” repeal. Under this plan, the individual mandate and taxes on medical device companies would be repealed, but Medicaid expansion and protections for those with pre-existing conditions would be left intact. The health care debate is expected to culminate in an all-night “vote-a-rama” later this week with dozens of amendment votes.
CMS proposes $1 billion cut to home health agencies over two years
CMS is proposing a drop in reimbursements for home health care agencies in the Medicare program for a fourth consecutive year. The agency wants a 0.4 percent decrease, or $80 million cut for providers in 2018 and a $950 million cut in 2019. Most cuts are ACA mandated, aiming to reduce overpayments to home health agencies that date back to 2000.
Medicare patients with disabilities not receiving the same care
CMS found Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities are screened for cancer less often than non-disabled beneficiaries. Disabled patients were less likely to receive mammography screenings, prostate exams and pap tests, often because cancer screenings can require a separate appointment and facility. One expert says the discrepancy in care is partly due to a lack of accreditation criteria for quality of care for people with disabilities.
Pay rises for primary care doctors despite persistent disparity
Primary care physicians have experienced steady rises in compensation due to an increase in demand for primary care. However, specialists are still paid more. The median income last year for an orthopedic surgeon was $579,000 and the median income for a pediatrician was $228,530.
Paid leave has bipartisan support
Republicans and Democrats have both signaled their willingness to guarantee paid leave to care for a new or adopted child, an ill family member or to address an individual’s own serious health condition. The Trump Administration included a paid leave plan in its 2018 budget, and a White House initiative proposes six weeks of paid leave for parents. Democrats have reintroduced the FAMILY Act, which would give all workers up to 60 individual days of paid leave per year. Five states and the District of Columbia have already passed parental and medical leave laws.