May 16, 2013
HELLER WORKING TO BLOCK IRS INVOLVEMENT IN ACA.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is crafting legislation to block the IRS from hiring staff to help roll out the Affordable Care Act, due to allegations that the agency targeted conservative groups, The Hill reports. The IRS is involved in overseeing the requirement that individuals have health insurance and tax credits offered under the legislation. Experts have said the IRS would operate under clear guidelines, but Heller wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that “it is necessary that both Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] look closely at the money given to the IRS through the healthcare law.”
GOOD NEWS FOR DOCTORS AND BUDGET HAWKS.
The price tag for repealing a flawed Medicare doctors' pay formula will remain near a recent record low, according to a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office released on Tuesday, National Journal’s Catherine Hollander reports. It’s good news for the physicians and lawmakers who hope to see a permanent “doc fix” in 2013, and suggests the momentum behind achieving repeal is likely to continue this year. What's more, the CBO lowered its estimates Tuesday for Medicare spending between 2014 and 2023 by $85 billion. Meanwhile, NJ’s Niraj Chokshi reports that if the historically low trend of recent years continues, billions of dollars in expected health-related spending over the next decade would be eliminated, potentially reshaping the fiscal debate. The only problem is no one knows what’s behind the recent trend or whether it will hold up.
JOINT HHS-DOJ TEAM ANNOUNCES $223 MILLION IN FALSE MEDICAID CHARGES.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force has found $223 million of alleged Medicare fraud, charging 89 individuals in eight cities, according to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services. The announcement marked the sixth “national takedown” for the force. Overall, the force has found $5 billion in false Medicaid billing, and more than 1,500 people have been charged. The force is a joint program between the HHS and the Department of Justice.
STUDY LOOKS AT IMPACT OF AGE ON HEALTH CARE COSTS.
The Health Care Cost Institute released a study that tracks the cost of health care as a person ages. A person who retires at 55 instead of 65, and lives until 85, will spend $226,000 more on health care, the study found. For someone who retires at 65, the cost of health care will be approximately $146,400 over 20 years, compared to $372,400 for the 55-year-old over 30 years. The study also looked at raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 70. Such a move would decrease Medicare spending by 19 percent, but per-person costs for those over 70 would jump by 12.5 percent. The study’s author, Dale Yamamoto, argues that aging actually has a smaller impact on health care costs than traditionally thought.