Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy released the Committee’s draft health reform legislation, the “Affordable Health Choices Act,” on June 9, 2009.  The legislation focuses on insurance market reforms and subsidies, along with other system changes, such as promotion of health information technology, follow-on biologicals (just placeholder-no language) and expanded participation in 340B drug program, long-term care/community living services, preventive care, health care workforce issues, and fraud and abuse provisions. Note that the bill does not address Medicare, because that falls within the Senate Finance Committee’s jurisdiction.  A HELP Committee hearing on the bill is scheduled for June 11, followed by markup beginning on June 16. [Markup subsequently delayed until June 17].

Also on June 9, leaders of the three House committees with jurisdiction over health policy released a 4-page outline of their health reform plan. In addition to insurance market reforms and other system changes, the plan includes Medicare reforms (including reform of the physician fee schedule formula, reductions in Medicare Advantage payments, and implementation of other unspecified MedPAC recommendations) and explicitly calls for a public health insurance option.