Legislative Update For Week Ending January 7, 2012

Legislative Update For Week Ending January 7, 2012

Action on Capitol Hill this week has been limited as Congress re-convenes on January 17th. Meanwhile, members of the payroll tax Congressional Conference Committee were named, while the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a plan for increased efficiency and savings.

Members named to Congressional Conference Committee

After passing The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act late last month, Congressional leaders quickly began selecting conferees to be named on the payroll tax conference committee. The bi-partisan panel will negotiate details beyond the 60-day payroll tax holiday extension and “doc fix” that will expire March 1st.

The Democrats on the committee include: Sens. Max Baucus (MT), Ben Cardin (MD), Bob Casey Jr. (PA), and Jack Reed (RI); and Reps. Xavier Becerra (CA-31), Sander Levin (MI- 12), Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), Chris Van Hollen (MD- 8 ) and Henry Waxman (CA-30).

The Republicans on the committee include: Sens. Jon Kyl (AZ), John Barrasso (WY), and Mike Crapo (ID); and Reps. Tom Price (GA-6), Nan Hayworth (NY-19), Renee Ellmers (NC-2), Dave Camp (MI- 4), Fred Upton (MI- 6), Tom Reed (NY-29), Kevin Brady (TX-8 ), and Greg Walden (OR- 2).

CMS to Save 4.5 Billion Dollars over Ten Years

The CMS announced new streamlined payment mechanisms for healthcare provider transactions this week. Doctors, hospitals, health plans, and states will all see reduced administrative costs under CMS’ larger “administrative simplification” initiative.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health care professionals will reportedly spend less time filling out paperwork and more time focusing on delivering the best care for patients,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The new regulation announced by CMS calls for a standard format when a health plan orders, authorizes, or initiates an electronic funds transfer with its financial institution. The new standard is expected to decrease many complexities and costs that riddle the current model.