Today the Obama Administration released an 11-page summary of its health reform proposal in preparation for a bipartisan health reform summit scheduled for February 25, 2010. Among other things, the proposal includes a relatively-detailed discussion how the Administration would promote access to affordable insurance, address health care fraud and abuse proposals, and bridge the differences between the House and Senate reform proposals in other key areas. Items of note include the following:
- Access to Health Insurance – The Administration proposes expanding access to affordable insurance through a series of insurance market reforms, including an insurance purchasing pool; federal premium subsidies; a requirement that individuals buy insurance or pay a penalty (with exceptions); a requirement that employers defray costs employees receiving federal subsidies (with exceptions); expansion of Medicaid; and a new Health Insurance Rate Authority to provide federal assistance and oversight to states in conducting reviews of unreasonable rate increases and other insurance industry practices. There is no mention of establishing a public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers.
- Waste, Fraud and Abuse – The Presidential proposal includes a variety of program integrity provisions, which include: a comprehensive sanctions database; registration and background checks of billing agencies and individuals; expanded access to the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank; liability of Medicare administrative contractors for claims submitted by excluded providers; strengthened standards for facilities that seek reimbursement as community mental health centers; limiting debt discharge in bankruptcies of fraudulent health care providers or suppliers; expanded use of technology for real-time data review; sanctions for illegal distribution of a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary identification or billing privileges; a study of universal product numbers/claims forms for selected items and services under the Medicare program; a state Medicaid prescription drug profiling requirement; extrapolation of Medicare Advantage risk adjustment errors to contract payment for a given year; modification of certain Medicare medical review limitations; establishment of a CMS-IRS data match to identify fraudulent providers; and prevention of delays in access to generic drugs.
- Cost-Containment Provisions – While the summary document does not include a detailed discussion of Medicare provider rate changes, it does include a limited number of cost containment/fiscal sustainability provisions, including: an adjustment in Medicare Advantage payments to reflect “unjustified coding patterns”; an excise tax on the most expensive health plans ($27,500 for a family plan) beginning in 2018 for all plans; and new Medicare Hospital Insurance taxes on high-income taxpayers.
- Industry Fees — The President proposes a $33 billion fee on brand name pharmaceutical manufacturers over 10 years (up $10 billion from Senate plan), beginning in 2011; a $67 billion assessment on health insurers over 10 years beginning in 2014 (with certain exceptions); and an excise tax (rather than fee) on medical device manufacturers, raising $20 billion over 10 years, starting in 2013.
- Quality of Care – Although not discussed in the summary document, a separate description on the White House web site states the President’s plan would provide “incentives for doctors, and hospitals that improve quality while providing for better coordination that helps to reduce harmful medical errors and healthcare-acquired infections.” The plan also includes “innovative payment reforms so providers are rewarded for the quality of care they provide, rather than just additional tests or treatments.” Likewise, it would reward greater coordination of care between primary care providers and specialists.
- Part D Coverage Gap – The President’s proposal fills the Medicare Part D prescription drug “doughnut hole” by providing a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who reach the coverage gap in 2010, and then phasing down the coinsurance requirement so it is the standard 25 percent by 2020 throughout the coverage gap.
- Medicaid Matching Funds – The President would eliminate the Senate’s proposed enhanced Medicaid matching provision for Nebraska and instead provide additional federal financing for all states to support the expansion of Medicaid.
- CLASS Act – The White House endorses the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program, a voluntary, privately-funded long-term services insurance program, but makes a series of changes designed to “improve the CLASS program’s financial stability and ensure its long-run solvency.”
The Administration also has released a variety of background and summary documents on the White House Health Care Meeting website.