KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

House Republicans Keep Target On Health Law’s Insurance Subsidies

Meanwhile, a new GOP lawmaker from Texas renews his pledge to undo "ObamaCare" while a senator focuses on workforce issues.

The Hill: Republicans Threaten To Subpoena IRS Records On Health Law's Subsidies
House Republicans on Tuesday reiterated their threat to issue subpoenas in their investigation into the Affordable Care Act's insurance subsidies. Republicans believe the IRS exceeded its legal authority by writing regulations to make the subsidies available in both state-run and federally facilitated exchanges, and have repeatedly asked to review documents about the IRS's decision making process (Baker, 1/29).

Fox News: Freshman Cruz Vows to Keep Campaign Promise To Try To Dismantle ObamaCare
Freshman Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is introducing legislation to fully repeal President Obama's signature health care law, making good on a campaign promise that attempting to dismantle ObamaCare would be his first order of congressional business. "I promised the voters of Texas that the first bill I would file as a U.S. senator would be to repeal every last word of ObamaCare, and that's a promise I'm proud to keep," the Texas senator said in a statement. Cruz argues Congress passed the legislation over the strong opposition of the American people, that it has already increased the cost of health insurance and has caused employers to drop their coverage. He also says further implementation of the law will continue to reduce the quality of health care (1/29).

The Hill: Rubio: Immigration Deal 'Un-Doable' If Health Benefits Are On The Table
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) signaled that he will withdraw support from any immigration reform deal that extends federal health care benefits to provisionally legal U.S. residents. Rubio was speaking with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh Tuesday when he said that adding millions of new beneficiaries under President Obama's health care law would excessively strain the federal budget (Viebeck, 1/29).

In other health care news from Capitol Hill --

The Hill: Lobbyists Air Concerns About Doctor Gift-Disclosure Rule At White House
Lobbyists are lining up to meet with Obama administration officials about rules that would require medical companies to disclose financial relationships with doctors, according to records released by the White House. The rules set forth by the Affordable Care Act reached the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in November -- way behind schedule set by Congress. Interest groups and Congress have since called for the administration to speed the process along. OIRA has up to 90 days to conduct a review, giving it until Feb. 27 (Wilson, 1/29).

Modern Healthcare: Senator Plans Bill To Tackle Doc Shortage
One of the Senate's health policy leaders is preparing legislation to address a primary-care physician shortage that could balloon next year as millions of uninsured Americans get coverage under the healthcare reform law. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters after a Tuesday hearing that he would soon introduce a bill and push for it to be enacted before the launch of the law's individual insurance mandate, Medicaid expansion and insurance exchanges in 2014(Daly, 1/29).

Medpage Today: RUC Targeted At Senate Hearing On Primary Care
The nation's primary care physician (PCP) shortage might be eased by requiring more transparency from the group that helps set Medicare pay rates, speakers at a Senate hearing said Tuesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, criticized the American Medical Association's Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC), which develops annual recommendations on physician pay updates for Medicare. Sanders noted that the RUC is dominated by specialists, whose opinions are accepted by Medicare more than 90% of the time. … A report on primary care access that the subcommittee released Tuesday paints a gloomy picture,forecasting a need for an additional 52,000 primary care physicians by 2025 (Pittman, 1/29).

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