March 30, 2010
What would everyone watch?
|[Posted by kris]|
A new Deadspin column asks some intriguing questions: why haven't more 80s celebrities died of AIDS, why isn't there a Cadbury Creme Egg Blizzard and what kind of event would at least 80% of Americans watch on TV.
I love questions like that. The author hypothesizes that you could only get an audience like that with one of the following:
- A major US city is nuked
- First contact with aliens
- Second Coming
- Elvis actually alive, holds press conference/concert
- Tiger Woods climbs to top of Empire State Building, threatens to jump off, DOES jump off
- Presidential assassination
- President murders someone and it is caught on tape (I've always wanted that to happen, regardless of President)
- Verdict in the President's murder trail
- Execution of the President
- Steve Jobs finally introduces flying car
With the exception of that last bullet (maybe if it were jetpacks), that's a pretty good list. But is there anything else that could triple the Super Bowl audience? I think it depends. Analysts have noted that social media increases television audiences for big events. The theory is that people want to be part of the online watercooler for these events, so they watch them. So as we get more connected maybe it won't take as much to get us watching together. Balloon Boy is evidence of that.
While 80% of Britons will probably watch William & Kate tie the knot someday, we won't. Likewise, while the rest of the world will be glued to the set watching the World Cup final this summer, Americans will be blissfully unaware. Unfortunately, it seems like only traumatic events get huge American audiences. But then again, maybe I'm wrong and the introduction of jetpacks will be the iconic televised moment that children of today will remember most!
March 28, 2010
Seven questions for the nanny staters
|[Posted by kris]|
One of the absurd aspects of the new health care bill is the 10% tax on tanning. I'm not a big fan of tanning as I prefer to get color the old fashioned way, but I've gone a few times for weddings and stuff and I certainly don't begrudge other people wanting a tan.
Personally I would like to see more taxes on things that costs peoples health. When people smoke, tan, drink too much, eat unhealthy foods, etc... they will get sick and need help at one point in their life. Whether it is threw private or public insurance they will soak up money for unnecessary habits that a larger pool of monetary contributors has to pay into. If a tax can divert some of these people from habits that I might have to help pay for or if it is a tax that can offset the cost difference then I am all for it!
As we inch towards national health care, this attitude that you have the right to affect other people's health & habits will only get more pronounced.
Obviously, this troubles me from the perspective of further government intrusion in my life. We may get better access to health care, but as government expands, freedom contracts. Maybe you don't think the freedom not to pay a bigger tax on tanning is that big of a deal. You're probably right. But as the comment above shows, tanning is only the tip of the iceberg. And here's seven reasons why it's wrong.
1. Unless we're talking about poison, there's no direct link between food and death. Your food choices might someday in part result in a disease. Then again, maybe they won't. And maybe you'll get a disease that has nothing to do with what you eat.
2. Who decides what an "unhealthy" food is? Oh sure, we can agree that junk food is bad for you. But oh, what about dark chocolate? So, should we add extra taxes to cheap chocolate candy, but not on expensive dark chocolate? And what about things like eggs? I mean sure, they have cholesterol, but they're also full of protein and fill you up so you tend to eat less. And what about red wine? Seriously - deciding what to tax is probably a multi-billion dollar government agency in the making.
3. What does "healthy" mean? Most experts agree that there's a mental aspect to physical health. What I mean by this is: ice cream (and Cheetos). Ice cream makes people happy. If ice cream makes you happy and happiness leads to overall better health, why should we be taxed more for comfort foods like ice cream? Uh oh, sounds like another question for our billion-dollar agency!
4. What makes a food "good"? Most people agree that fruits and vegetables are good for you. But if you eat pineapple, for example, you're consuming something that takes so much energy to get from Hawaii or wherever to your belly. Likewise, eating fruits and vegetables out of season does the same thing. Shouldn't our tax policy discourage this earth-destroying behavior?
5. And speaking of produce, it seems like the government is giving us sticks, but not carrots. If we're really concerned about making Americans healthy, then where are the tax breaks for CSA memberships or bike purchases? If we can have Cash for Clunkers, then why not Tax Breaks for Treks?
6. Among the infinite number of unhealthy things that can be taxed, who decides what is? Before tanning took the bullet, it was going to be a 5% tax on Botox. So why tanning? Is it because it's so unhealthy or because the tanning lobby wasn't as influential as the Botox lobby? Or maybe it's because the wrong kind of white people tan, while the right kind get Botox and spray tans (which aren't included in the tax).
7. No matter how healthy you are, you're going to get sick and you're going to die. And, you're going to cost the rest of us money. How do we deal with that? If this is all about saving tax payers money, then perhaps we should encourage unhealthy habits so that people will die faster and therefore we'll save money on their health care. Think about all of the extra years that someone who lives until 90 would consume taxpayer funded health care. It's an outrage!
There are certainly some good aspects to the health care bill, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be on the watch for some of the more subtly bad things that could come of it.
March 25, 2010
The sixth Great Lake?
|[Posted by kris]|
I think it's cool that Amtrak's launched a new website showing Amtrak's access to National Parks. Of course, once you go to the site the user experience completely sucks, but that's not my biggest gripe. Check out this map.
Now, I get that it's a bit fanciful. I do realize that the source of the Mississippi River really isn't a garden hose. But what the heck is that giant lake in Idaho? Did the Great Salt Lake get dramatically bigger and move up north? When did this happen? And we wonder why children are so geographically ignorant.
March 24, 2010
Text of the Health Care Bill
|[Posted by kris]|
Like many Americans, I have an opinion of the health care bill (H.R.3590 - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) even though I haven't read it. That seems pretty silly, so I tried to find the actual text of the bill. After much searching, I found a summary at Open Congress.
It wasn't easy to find this information and now, unfortunately, the Open Congress site is getting hit with lots of traffic. So, expand this entry if you want to read the text of the bill and learn more about Obamacare as it stands today.
12/24/2009--Passed Senate amended. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - Title I: Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans - Subtitle A: Immediate Improvements in Health Care Coverage for All Americans - (Sec. 1001, as modified by Sec. 10101) Amends the Public Health Service Act to prohibit a health plan from establishing lifetime limits or annual limits on the dollar value of benefits for any participant or beneficiary after January 1, 2014. Permits a restricted annual limit for plan years beginning prior to January 1, 2014. Declares that a health plan shall not be prevented from placing annual or lifetime per-beneficiary limits on covered benefits that are not essential health benefits to the extent that such limits are otherwise permitted. Prohibits a health plan from rescinding coverage of an enrollee except in the case of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact. Requires health plans to provide coverage for, and to not impose any cost sharing requirements for:
(1) specified preventive items or services;
(2) recommended immunizations; and
(3) recommended preventive care and screenings for women and children. Requires a health plan that provides dependent coverage of children to make such coverage available for an unmarried, adult child until the child turns 26 years of age. Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services ( HHS) to develop standards for health plans to provide an accurate summary of benefits and coverage explanation. Directs each health plan, prior to any enrollment restriction, to provide such a summary of benefits and coverage explanation to:
(1) the applicant at the time of application;
(2) an enrollee prior to the time of enrollment or re-enrollment; and
(3) a policy or certificate holder at the time of issuance of the policy or delivery of the certificate. Requires group health plans to comply with requirements relating to the prohibition against discrimination in favor of highly compensated individuals. Requires the Secretary to develop reporting requirements for health plans on benefits or reimbursement structures that:
(1) improve health outcomes;
(2) prevent hospital readmissions;
(3) improve patient safety and reduce medical errors; and
(4) promote wellness and health. Requires a health plan to:
(1) submit to the Secretary a report concerning the ratio of the incurred loss (or incurred claims) plus the loss adjustment expense (or change in contract reserves) to earned premiums; and
(2) provide an annual rebate to each enrollee if the ratio of the amount of premium revenue expended by the issuer on reimbursement for clinical services provided to enrollees and activities that improve health care quality to the total amount of premium revenue for the plan year is less than a 85% for large group markets or 80% for small group or individual markets. Requires each U.S. hospital to establish and make public a list of its standard charges for items and services. Requires a health plan to implement an effective process for appeals of coverage determinations and claims. Sets forth requirements for health plans related to:
(1) designation of a primary care provider;
(2) coverage of emergency services; and
(3) elimination of referral requirements for obstetrical or gynecological care.
Requires the Secretary to award grants to states for offices of health insurance consumer assistance or health insurance ombudsman programs. (Sec. 1003, as modified by Sec. 10101) Requires the Secretary to establish a process for the annual review of unreasonable increases in premiums for health insurance coverage.
Makes this subtitle effective for plan years beginning six months after enactment of this Act, with certain exceptions. Subtitle B: Immediate Actions to Preserve and Expand Coverage -
Requires the Secretary to establish a temporary high risk health insurance pool program to provide health insurance coverage to eligible individuals with a preexisting condition. Terminates such coverage on January 1, 2014, and provides for a transition to an American Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange). (Sec. 1102, as modified by Sec. 10102) Requires the Secretary to establish a temporary reinsurance program to provide reimbursement to participating employment-based plans for a portion of the cost of providing health insurance coverage to early retirees before January 1, 2014. (Sec. 1103, as modified by Sec. 10102) Requires the Secretary to establish a mechanism, including an Internet website, through which a resident of, or small business in, any state may identify affordable health insurance coverage options in that state.
Sets forth provisions governing electronic health care transactions. Establishes penalties for health plans failing to comply with requirements.
Makes this subtitle effective on the date of enactment of this Act. Subtitle C: Quality Health Insurance Coverage for All Americans - Part I: Health Insurance Market Reforms - (Sec. 1201, as modified by Sec. 10103) Amends the Public Health Service Act to prohibit preexisting condition exclusions. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of any health status-related factor. Allows premium rates to vary only by individual or family coverage, rating area, age, or tobacco use. Requires health plans in a state to:
(1) accept every employer and individual in the state that applies for coverage; and
(2) renew or continue coverage at the option of the plan sponsor or the individual, as applicable. Prohibits a health plan from establishing individual eligibility rules based on health status-related factors, including medical condition, claims experience, receipt of health care, medical history, genetic information, and evidence of insurability. Sets forth provisions governing wellness programs under the health plan, including allowing cost variances for coverage for participation in such a program. Prohibits a health plan from discriminating with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider's license or certification under applicable state law. Requires health plans that offer health insurance coverage in the individual or small group market to ensure that such coverage includes the essential health benefits package. Requires a group health plan to ensure that any annual cost-sharing imposed under the plan does not exceed specified limitations. Prohibits a health plan from:
(1) applying any waiting period for coverage that exceeds 90 days; or
(2) discriminating against individual participation in clinical trials with respect to treatment of cancer or any other life-threatening disease or condition. Part II: Other Provisions - (Sec. 1251, as modified by Sec. 10103) Provides that nothing in this Act shall be construed to require that an individual terminate coverage under a group health plan or health insurance coverage in which such individual was enrolled on the date of enactment of this Act. Applies provisions related to uniform coverage documents and medical loss ratios to grandfathered health plans for plan years beginning after enactment of this Act.
Requires uniform application of standards or requirements adopted by states to all health plans in each applicable insurance market. (Sec. 1253, as added by Sec. 10103) Directs the Secretary of Labor to prepare an annual report on self-insured group health plans and self-insured employers. (Sec. 1254, as added by Sec. 10103) Requires the HHS Secretary to conduct a study of the fully-insured and self-insured group health plan markets related to financial solvency and the effect of insurance market reforms. (Sec. 1255, as modified by Sec. 10103) Sets forth effective dates for specified provisions of this subtitle. Subtitle D: Available Coverage Choices for All Americans - Part I: Establishment of Qualified Health Plans - (Sec. 1301, as modified by Sec. 10104) Defines "qualified health plan" to require that such a plan provides essential health benefits and offers at least one plan in the silver level at one plan in the gold level in each Exchange through which such plan is offered. (Sec. 1302, as modified by Sec. 10104) Requires the essential health benefits package to provide essential health benefits and limit cost-sharing. Directs the Secretary to:
(1) define essential health benefits and include emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, and pediatric services, including oral and vision care;
(2) ensure that the scope of the essential health benefits is equal to the scope of benefits provided under a typical employer plan; and
(3) provide notice and an opportunity for public comment in defining the essential health benefits. Establishes:
(1) an annual limit on cost-sharing beginning in 2014; and
(2) a limitation on the deductible under a small group market health plan. Sets forth levels of coverage for health plans defined by a certain percentage of the costs paid by the plan. Allows health plans in the individual market to offer catastrophic coverage for individuals under age 30, with certain limitations. (Sec. 1303, as modified by Sec. 10104) Sets forth special rules for abortion coverage, including:
(1) permitting states to elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in the state;
(2) prohibiting federal funds from being used for abortion services; and
(3) requiring separate accounts for payments for such services. (Sec. 1304, as modified by Sec. 10104) Sets forth definitions for terms used in this title. Part II: Consumer Choices and Insurance Competition Through Health Benefit Exchanges - (Sec. 1311, as modified by Sec. 10104) Requires states to establish an American Health Benefit Exchange that:
(1) facilitates the purchase of qualified health plans; and
(2) provides for the establishment of a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP Exchange) that is designed to assist qualified small employers in facilitating the enrollment of their employees in qualified health plans offered in the small group market in the state. Requires the Secretary to establish criteria for the certification of health plans as qualified health plans, including requirements for:
(1) meeting market requirements; and
(2) ensuring a sufficient choice of providers. Sets forth the requirements for an Exchange, including that an Exchange:
(1) must be a governmental agency or nonprofit entity that is established by a state;
(2) may not make available any health plan that is not a qualified health plan;
(3) must implement procedures for certification of health plans as qualified health plans; and
(4) must require health plans seeking certification to submit a justification of any premium increase prior to implementation of such increase. Permits states to require qualified health plans to offer additional benefits. Requires states to pay for the cost of such additional benefits. Allows a state to establish one or more subsidiary Exchanges for geographically distinct areas of a certain size. Applies mental health parity provisions to qualified health plans. (Sec. 1312, as modified by Sec. 10104) Allows an employer to select a level of coverage to be made available to employees through an Exchange. Allows employees to choose to enroll in any qualified health plan that offers that level of coverage. Permits states to allow large employers to join an Exchange after 2017. (Sec. 1313, as modified by Sec. 10104) Requires an Exchange to keep an accurate accounting of all activities, receipts, and expenditures and to submit to the Secretary, annually, a report concerning such accountings. Requires the Secretary to take certain action to reduce fraud and abuse in the administration of this title. Requires the Comptroller General to conduct an ongoing study of Exchange activities and the enrollees in qualified health plans offered through Exchanges. Part III: State Flexibility Relating to Exchanges -
Requires the Secretary to issue regulations setting standards related to:
(1) the establishment and operation of Exchanges;
(2) the offering of qualified health plans through Exchanges; and
(3) the establishment of the reinsurance and risk adjustment programs under part V. Requires the Secretary to:
(1) establish and operate an Exchange within a state if the state does not have one operational by January 1, 2014; and
(2) presume that an Exchange operating in a state before January 1, 2010, that insures a specified percentage of its population meets the standards under this section. (Sec. 1322, as modified by Sec. 10104) Requires the Secretary to establish the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program to foster the creation of qualified nonprofit health insurance issuers to offer qualified health plans in the individual and small group markets. Requires the Secretary to provide for loans and grants to persons applying to become qualified nonprofit health insurance issuers. Sets forth provisions governing the establishment and operation of CO-OP program plans. (Sec. 1324, as modified by Sec. 10104) Declares that health insurance coverage offered by a private health insurance issuer shall not be subject to federal or state laws if a qualified health plan offered under the CO-OP program is not subject to such law. Part IV: State Flexibility to Establish Alternative Programs - (Sec. 1331, as modified by Sec. 10104) Requires the Secretary to establish a basic health program under which a state may enter into contracts to offer one or more standard health plans providing at least the essential health benefits to eligible individuals in lieu of offering such individuals coverage through an Exchange. Sets forth requirements for such a plan. Transfers funds that would have gone to the Exchange for such individuals to the state.
Authorizes a state to apply to the Secretary for the waiver of specified requirements under this Act with respect to health insurance coverage within that state for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017. Directs the Secretary to provide for an alternative means by which the aggregate amounts of credits or reductions that would have been paid on behalf of participants in the Exchange will be paid to the state for purposes of implementing the state plan. (Sec. 1333, as modified by Sec. 10104) Requires the Secretary to issue regulations for the creation of health care choice compacts under which two or more states may enter into an agreement that:
(1) qualified health plans could be offered in the individual markets in all such states only subject to the laws and regulations of the state in which the plan was written or issued; and
(2) the issuer of any qualified health plan to which the compact applies would continue to be subject to certain laws of the state in which the purchaser resides, would be required to be licensed in each state, and must clearly notify consumers that the policy may not be subject to all the laws and regulations of the state in which the purchaser resides. Sets forth provisions regarding the Secretary's approval of such compacts. (Sec. 1334, as added by Sec. 10104) Requires the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to:
(1) enter into contracts with health insurance issuers to offer at least two multistate qualified health plans through each Exchange in each state to provide individual or group coverage; and
(2) implement this subsection in a manner similar to the manner in which the Director implements the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Sets forth requirements for a multistate qualified health plan. Part V: Reinsurance and Risk Adjustment - (Sec. 1341, as modified by Sec. 10104) Directs each state, not later than January 1, 2014, to establish one or more reinsurance entities to carry out the reinsurance program under this section. Requires the Secretary to establish standards to enable states to establish and maintain a reinsurance program under which:
(1) health insurance issuers and third party administrators on behalf of group health plans are required to make payments to an applicable reinsurance entity for specified plan years; and
(2) the applicable reinsurance entity uses amounts collected to make reinsurance payments to health insurance issuers that cover high risk individuals in the individual market. Directs the state to eliminate or modify any state high-risk pool to the extent necessary to carry out the reinsurance program established under this section.
Requires the Secretary to establish and administer a program of risk corridors for calendar years 2014, 2015, and 2016 under which a qualified health plan offered in the individual or small group market shall participate in a payment adjusted system based on the ratio of the allowable costs of the plan to the plan's aggregate premiums. Directs the Secretary to make payments when a plan's allowable costs exceed the target amount by a certain percentage and directs a plan to make payments to the Secretary when its allowable costs are less than target amount by a certain percentage.
Requires each state to assess a charge on health plans and health insurance issuers if the actuarial risk of the enrollees of such plans or coverage for a year is less than the average actuarial risk of all enrollees in all plans or coverage in the state for the year. Requires each state to provide a payment to health plans and health insurance issuers if the actuarial risk of the enrollees of such plan or coverage for a year is greater than the average actuarial risk of all enrollees in all plans and coverage in the state for the year. Excludes self-insured group health plans from this section.Subtitle E: Affordable Coverage Choices for All Americans - Part I: Premium Tax Credits and Cost-sharing Reductions - Subpart A: Premium Tax Credits and Cost-sharing Reductions - (Sec. 1401, as modified by section 10105) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow individual taxpayers whose household income equals or exceeds 100%, but does not exceed 400%, of the federal poverty line (as determined in the Social Security Act [SSA]) a refundable tax credit for a percentage of the cost of premiums for coverage under a qualified health plan. Sets forth formulae and rules for the calculation of credit amounts based upon taxpayer household income as a percentage of the poverty line. Directs the Comptroller General, not later than five years after enactment of this Act, to conduct a study and report to specified congressional committees on the affordability of health insurance coverage.
Requires reductions in the maximum limits for out-of-pocket expenses for individuals enrolled in qualified health plans whose incomes are between 100% and 400% of the poverty line. Subpart B: Eligibility Determinations -
- Requires the Secretary to establish a program for verifying the eligibility of applicants for participation in a qualified health plan offered through an Exchange or for a tax credit for premium assistance based upon their income or their citizenship or immigration status. Requires an Exchange to submit information received from an applicant to the Secretary for verification of applicant eligibility. Provides for confidentiality of applicant information and for an appeals and redetermination process for denials of eligibility. Imposes civil penalties on applicants for providing false or fraudulent information relating to eligibility. Requires the Secretary to study and report to Congress by January 1, 2013, on procedures necessary to ensure the protection of privacy and due process rights in making eligibility and other determinations under this Act.
Requires the Secretary to establish a program for advance payments of the tax credit for premium assistance and for reductions of cost-sharing. Prohibits any federal payments, tax credit, or cost-sharing reductions for individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.
Requires the Secretary to establish a system to enroll state residents who apply to an Exchange in state health subsidy programs, including Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP, formerly known as SCHIP), if such residents are found to be eligible for such programs after screening.
Requires the Secretary of the Treasury to disclose to HHS personnel certain taxpayer information to determine eligibility for programs under this Act or certain other social security programs.
Disregards the premium assistance tax credit and cost-sharing reductions in determining eligibility for federal and federally-assisted programs. (Sec. 1416, as added by section 10105) Directs the HHS Secretary to study and report to Congress by January 1, 2013, on the feasibility and implication of adjusting the application of the federal poverty level under this subtitle for different geographic areas in the United States, including its territories. Part II: Small Business Tax Credit - (Sec. 1421, as modified by section 10105) Allows qualified small employers to elect, beginning in 2010, a tax credit for 50% of their employee health care coverage expenses. Defines "qualified small employer" as an employer who has no more than 25 employees with average annual compensation levels not exceeding $50,000. Requires a phase-out of such credit based on employer size and employee compensation.Subtitle F: Shared Responsibility for Health Care - Part I: Individual Responsibility - (Sec. 1501, as modified by section 10106) Requires individuals to maintain minimal essential health care coverage beginning in 2014. Imposes a penalty for failure to maintain such coverage beginning in 2014, except for certain low-income individuals who cannot afford coverage, members of Indian tribes, and individuals who suffer hardship. Exempts from the coverage requirement individuals who object to health care coverage on religious grounds, individuals not lawfully present in the United States, and individuals who are incarcerated.
Requires providers of minimum essential coverage to file informational returns providing identifying information of covered individuals and the dates of coverage. Requires the IRS to send a notice to taxpayers who are not enrolled in minimum essential coverage about services available through the Exchange operating in their state. Part II: Employer Responsibilities -
Amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to:
(1) require employers with more than 200 full-time employees to automatically enroll new employees in a health care coverage and provide notice of the opportunity to opt-out of such coverage; and
(2) provide notice to employees about an Exchange, the availability of a tax credit for premium assistance, and the loss of an employer's contribution to an employer-provided health benefit plan if the employee purchases a plan through an Exchange. (Sec. 1513, as modified by section 10106) Imposes fines on large employers (employers with more than 50 full-time employees) who fail to offer their full-time employees the opportunity to enroll in minimum essential coverage or who have a waiting period for enrollment of more than 60 days. Requires the Secretary of Labor to study and report to Congress on whether employees' wages are reduced due to fines imposed on employers. (Sec. 1514, as modified by section 10106) Requires large employers to file a report with the Secretary of the Treasury on health insurance coverage provided to their full-time employees. Requires such reports to contain:
(1) a certification as to whether such employers provide their full-time employees (and their dependents) the opportunity to enroll in minimum essential coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan;
(2) the length of any waiting period for such coverage;
(3) the months during which such coverage was available;
(4) the monthly premium for the lowest cost option in each of the enrollment categories under the plan;
(5) the employer's share of the total allowed costs of benefits provided under the plan; and
(6) identifying information about the employer and full-time employees. Imposes a penalty on employers who fail to provide such report. Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to review the accuracy of information provided by large employers.
Allows certain small employers to include as a benefit in a tax-exempt cafeteria plan a qualified health plan offered through an Exchange. Subtitle G: Miscellaneous Provisions -
Applies the definitions under the Public Health Service Act related to health insurance coverage to this title.
Requires the HHS Secretary to publish on the HHS website a list of all of the authorities provided to the Secretary under this Act.
Prohibits the federal government, any state or local government or health care provider that receives federal financial assistance under this Act, or any health plan created under this Act from discriminating against an individual or institutional health care entity on the basis that such individual or entity does not provide a health care item or service furnished for the purpose of causing, or assisting in causing, the death of any individual, such as by assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.
Prohibits the Secretary from promulgating any regulation that:
(1) creates an unreasonable barrier to the ability of individuals to obtain appropriate medical care;
(2) impedes timely access to health care services;
(3) interferes with communications regarding a full range of treatment options between the patient and the health care provider;
(4) restricts the ability of health care providers to provide full disclosure of all relevant information to patients making health care decisions;
(5) violates the principle of informed consent and the ethical standards of health care professionals; or
(6) limits the availability of health care treatment for the full duration of a patient's medical needs.
Declares that no individual, company, business, nonprofit entity, or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall be required to participate in any federal health insurance program created by or expanded under this Act. Prohibits any penalty from being imposed upon any such issuer for choosing not to participate in any such program.
Amends the Black Lung Benefits Act, with respect to claims filed on or after the effective date of the Black Lung Benefits Amendments of 1981, to eliminate exceptions to:
(1) the applicability of certain provisions regarding rebuttable presumptions; and
(2) the prohibition against requiring eligible survivors of a miner determined to be eligible for black lung benefits to file a new claim or to refile or otherwise revalidate the miner's claim.
Prohibits discrimination by any federal health program or activity on the grounds of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
Amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit an employer from discharging or discriminating against any employee because the employee:
(1) has received a health insurance credit or subsidy;
(2) provides information relating to any violation of any provision of such Act; or
(3) objects to, or refuses to participate in, any activity, policy, practice, or assigned task that the employee reasonably believed to be in violation of such Act.
Gives the HHS Inspector General oversight authority with respect to the administration and implementation of this title.
Declares that nothing in this title shall be construed to modify, impair, or supersede the operation of any antitrust laws.
Amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary to:
(1) develop interoperable and secure standards and protocols that facilitate enrollment of individuals in federal and state health and human services programs; and
(2) award grants to develop and adapt technology systems to implement such standards and protocols. (Sec. 1562, as added by Sec. 10107) Directs the Comptroller General to study denials by health plans of coverage for medical services and of applications to enroll in health insurance. (Sec. 1563, as added by Sec. 10107) Disallows the waiver of laws or regulations establishing procurement requirements relating to small business concerns with respect to any contract awarded under any program or other authority under this Act. (Sec. 1563 [sic], as modified by Sec. 10107) Makes technical and conforming amendments. (Sec. 1563 [sic]) Expresses the sense of the Senate that:
(1) the additional surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund generated by this Act should be reserved for Social Security; and
(2) the net savings generated by the CLASS program (established under Title VIII of this Act) should be reserved for such program.Title II: Role of Public Programs - Subtitle A: Improved Access to Medicaid - (Sec. 2001, as modified by Sec. 10201) Amends title XIX (Medicaid) of the SSA to extend Medicaid coverage, beginning in calendar 2014, to individuals under age 65 who are not entitled to or enrolled in Medicare and have incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty line. Grants a state the option to expand Medicaid eligibility to such individuals as early as April 1, 2010. Provides that, for between 2014 and 2016, the federal government will pay 100% of the cost of covering newly-eligible individuals. Increases the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP):
(1) with respect to newly eligible individuals; and
(2) between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2016, for states meeting certain eligibility requirements. Requires Medicaid benchmark benefits to include coverage of prescription drugs and mental health services. Grants states the option to extend Medicaid coverage to individuals who have incomes that exceed 133% of the federal poverty line beginning January 1, 2014.
Requires a state to use an individual's or household's modified gross income to determine income eligibility for Medicaid for non-elderly individuals, without applying any income or expense disregards or assets or resources test. Exempts from this requirement:
(1) individuals eligible for Medicaid through another program;
(2) the elderly or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program beneficiaries;
(3) the medically needy;
(4) enrollees in a Medicare Savings Program; and
(5) the disabled.
Revises state authority to offer a premium assistance subsidy for qualified employer-sponsored coverage to children under age 19 to extend such a subsidy to all individuals, regardless of age. Prohibits a state from requiring, as a condition of Medicaid eligibility, that an individual (or the individual's parent) apply for enrollment in qualified employer-sponsored coverage. (Sec. 2004, as modified by Sec. 10201) Extends Medicaid coverage to former foster care children who are under 26 years of age. (Sec. 2005, as modified by Sec. 10201) Revises requirements for Medicaid payments to territories, including an increase in the limits on payments for FY2011 and thereafter. (Sec. 2006, as modified by Sec. 10201) Prescribes an adjustment to the FMAP determination for certain states recovering from a major disaster.
Rescinds any unobligated amounts available to the Medicaid Improvement Fund for FY2014-FY2018. Subtitle B: Enhanced Support for the Children's Health Insurance Program - (Sec. 2101, as modified by Sec. 10201) Amends SSA title XXI (State Children's Health Insurance Program) (CHIP, formerly known as SCHIP) to increase the FY2016-FY2019 enhanced FMAP for states, subject to a 100% cap. Prohibits states from applying, before the end of FY2019, CHIP eligibility standards that are more restrictive than those under this Act. Deems ineligible for CHIP any targeted low-income children who cannot enroll in CHIP because allotments are capped, but who are therefore eligible for tax credits in the Exchanges. Requires the Secretary to:
(1) review benefits offered for children, and related cost-sharing imposed, by qualified health plans offered through an Exchange; and
(2) certify those plans whose benefits and cost-sharing are at least comparable to those provided under the particular state's CHIP plan. Prohibits enrollment bonus payments for children enrolled in CHIP after FY2013. Requires a state CHIP plan, beginning January 1, 2014, to use modified gross income and household income to determine CHIP eligibility. Requires a state to treat as a targeted low-income child eligible for CHIP any child determined ineligible for Medicaid as a result of the elimination of an income disregard based on expense or type of income.
Makes technical corrections to the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA). Subtitle C: Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Simplification -
Amends SSA title XIX (Medicaid) to require enrollment application simplification and coordination with state health insurance Exchanges and CHIP via state-run websites.
Permits hospitals to provide Medicaid services during a period of presumptive eligibility to members of all Medicaid eligibility categories. Subtitle D: Improvements to Medicaid Services -
Requires Medicaid coverage of:
(1) freestanding birth center services; and
(2) concurrent care for children receiving hospice care.
Gives states the option of extending Medicaid coverage to family planning services and supplies under a presumptive eligibility period for a categorically needy group of individuals. Subtitle E: New Options for States to Provide Long-Term Services and Supports -
Authorizes states to offer home and community-based attendant services and supports to Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities who would otherwise require care in a hospital, nursing facility, intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded, or an institution for mental diseases.
Gives states the option of:
(1) providing home and community-based services to individuals eligible for services under a waiver; and
(2) offering home and community-based services to specific, targeted populations Creates an optional eligibility category to provide full Medicaid benefits to individuals receiving home and community-based services under a state plan amendment.
Amends the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 to:
(1) extend through FY2016 the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration; and
(2) reduce to 90 days the institutional residency period.
Applies Medicaid eligibility criteria to recipients of home and community-based services, during calendar 2014 through 2019, in such a way as to protect against spousal impoverishment.
Makes appropriations for FY2010-FY2014 to the Secretary, acting through the Assistant Secretary for Aging, to expand state aging and disability resource centers.
Expresses the sense of the Senate that:
(1) during the 111th session of Congress, Congress should address long-term services and supports in a comprehensive way that guarantees elderly and disabled individuals the care they need; and
(2) long-term services and supports should be made available in the community in addition to institutions. Subtitle F: Medicaid Prescription Drug Coverage -
Amends SSA title XIX (Medicaid) to:
(1) increase the minimum rebate percentage for single source drugs and innovator multiple source drugs;
(2) increase the rebate for other drugs;
(3) require contracts with Medicaid managed care organizations to extend prescription drug rebates (discounts) to their enrollees;
(4) provide an additional rebate for new formulations of existing drugs; and
(5) set a maximum rebate amount.
Eliminates the exclusion from Medicaid coverage of, thereby extending coverage to, certain drugs used to promote smoking cessation, as well as barbiturates and benzodiazepines.
Revises requirements with respect to pharmacy reimbursements. Subtitle G: Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) Payments - (Sec. 2551, as modified by Sec. 10201) Reduces state disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotments, except for Hawaii, by 50% or 35% once a state's uninsurance rate decreases by 45%, depending on whether they have spent at least or more than 99.9% of their allotments on average during FY2004-FY2008. Requires a reduction of only 25% or 17.5% for low DSH states, depending on whether they have spent at least or more than 99.9% of their allotments on average during FY2004-FY2008. Prescribes allotment reduction requirements for subsequent fiscal years. Revises DSH allotments for Hawaii for the last three quarters of FY2012, and for FY2013 and succeeding fiscal years. Subtitle H: Improved Coordination for Dual Eligible Beneficiaries -
Declares that any Medicaid waiver for individuals dually eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare may be conducted for a period of five years, with a five-year extension, upon state request, unless the Secretary determines otherwise for specified reasons.
Directs the Secretary to establish a Federal Coordinated Health Care Office to bring together officers and employees of the Medicare and Medicaid programs at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) to:
(1) integrate Medicaid and Medicare benefits more effectively; and
(2) improve the coordination between the federal government and states for dual eligible individuals to ensure that they get full access to the items and services to which they are entitled. Subtitle I: Improving the Quality of Medicaid for Patients and Providers -
Amends SSA title XI, as modified by CHIPRA, to direct the Secretary to:
(1) identify and publish a recommended core set of adult health quality measures for Medicaid eligible adults; and
(2) establish a Medicaid Quality Measurement Program.
Requires the Secretary to identify current state practices that prohibit payment for health care-acquired conditions and to incorporate them, or elements of them, which are appropriate for application in regulations to the Medicaid program. Requires such regulations to prohibit payments to states for any amounts expended for providing medical assistance for specified health care-acquired conditions.
Gives states the option to provide coordinated care through a health home for individuals with chronic conditions. Authorizes the Secretary to award planning grants to states to develop a state plan amendment to that effect.
Directs the Secretary to establish a demonstration project to evaluate the use of bundled payments for the provision of integrated care for a Medicaid beneficiary:
(1) with respect to an episode of care that includes a hospitalization; and
(2) for concurrent physicians services provided during a hospitalization.
Requires the Secretary to establish a Medicaid Global Payment System Demonstration Project under which a participating state shall adjust payments made to an eligible safety net hospital or network from a fee-for-service payment structure to a global capitated payment model. Authorizes appropriations.
Directs the Secretary to establish the Pediatric Accountable Care Organization Demonstration Project to authorize a participating state to allow pediatric medical providers meeting specified requirements to be recognized as an accountable care organization for the purpose of receiving specified incentive payments. Authorizes appropriations.
Requires the Secretary to establish a three-year Medicaid emergency psychiatric demonstration project. Makes appropriations for FY2011. Subtitle J: Improvements to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) -
Revises requirements with respect to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC), including those for MACPAC membership, topics to be reviewed, and MEDPAC review of Medicaid trends in spending, utilization, and financial performance. Requires MACPAC and MEDPAC to consult with one another on related issues. Makes appropriations to MACPAC for FY2010. Subtitle K: Protections for American Indians and Alaska Natives -
Sets forth special rules relating to Indians.Declares that health programs operated by the Indian Health Service (IHS), Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Urban Indian organizations shall be the payer of last resort for services they provide to eligible individuals. Makes such organizations Express Lane agencies for determining Medicaid and CHIP eligibility.
Makes permanent the requirement that the Secretary reimburse certain Indian hospitals and clinics for all Medicare part B services. Subtitle L: Maternal and Child Health Services -
Amends SSA title V (Maternal and Child Health Services) to direct the Secretary to make grants to eligible entities for early childhood home visitation programs. Makes appropriations for FY2010-FY2014.
Encourages the Secretary to continue activities on postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis, including research to expand the understanding of their causes and treatment. Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to eligible entities for projects to establish, operate, and coordinate effective and cost-efficient systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions and their families. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2012. (Sec. 2953, as modified by Sec. 10201) Directs the Secretary to allot funds to states to award grants to local organizations and other specified entities to carry out personal responsibility education programs to educate adolescents on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as on certain adulthood preparation subjects. Makes appropriations for FY2010-FY2014.
Makes appropriations for FY2010-FY2014 for abstinence education.
Requires the case review system for children aging out of foster care and independent living programs to include information about the importance of having a health care power of attorney in transition planning. Title III: Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Health Care - Subtitle A: Transforming the Health Care Delivery System - Part I: Linking Payment to Quality Outcomes under the Medicare Program -
Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare) to direct the Secretary to establish a hospital value-based purchasing program under which value-based incentive payments are made in a fiscal year to hospitals that meet specified performance standards for a certain performance period. Directs the Secretary to establish value-based purchasing demonstration programs for:
(1) inpatient critical access hospital services; and
(2) hospitals excluded from the program because of insufficient numbers of measures and cases.
Extends through 2013 the authority for incentive payments under the physician quality reporting system. Prescribes an incentive (penalty) for providers who do not report quality measures satisfactorily, beginning in 2015. Requires the Secretary to integrate reporting on quality measures with reporting requirements for the meaningful use of electronic health records.
Requires specified new types of reports and data analysis under the physician feedback program.
Requires long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, and hospices, starting in rate year 2014, to submit data on specified quality measures. Requires reduction of the annual update of entities which do not comply.
Directs the Secretary, starting FY2014, to establish quality reporting programs for inpatient cancer hospitals exempt from the prospective payment system. (Sec. 3006, as modified by Sec. 10301) Directs the Secretary to develop a plan to implement value-based purchasing programs for Medicare payments for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), home health agencies, and ambulatory surgical centers.
Directs the Secretary to establish a value-based payment modifier, under the physician fee schedule, based upon the quality of care furnished compared to cost.
Subjects hospitals to a penalty adjustment to hospital payments for high rates of hospital acquired conditions. Part II: National Strategy to Improve Health Care Quality - (Sec. 3011, as modified by Sec. 10302) Amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Secretary, through a transparent collaborative process, to establish a National Strategy for Quality Improvement in health care services, patient health outcomes, and population health, taking into consideration certain limitations on the use of comparative effectiveness data.
Directs the President to convene an Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality. (Sec. 3013, as modified by Sec. 10303) Directs the Secretary, at least triennially, to identify gaps where no quality measures exist as well as existing quality measures that need improvement, updating, or expansion, consistent with the national strategy for use in federal health programs. Directs the Secretary to award grants, contracts, or intergovernmental agreements to eligible entities for purposes of developing, improving, updating, or expanding such quality measures. Requires the Secretary to develop and update periodically provider-level outcome measures for hospitals and physicians, as well as other appropriate providers. (Sec. 3014, as modified by Sec. 10304) Requires the convening of multi-stakeholder groups to provide input into the selection of quality and efficiency measures. (Sec. 3015, as modified by Sec. 10305) Directs the Secretary to:
(1) establish an overall strategic framework to carry out the public reporting of performance information; and
(2) collect and aggregate consistent data on quality and resource use measures from information systems used to support health care delivery. Authorizes the Secretary to award grants for such purpose. Directs the Secretary to make available to the public, through standardized Internet websites, performance information summarizing data on quality measures. Part III: Encouraging Development of New Patient Care Models - (Sec. 3021, as modified by Sec. 10306) Creates within CMMS a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to test innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures while preserving or enhancing the quality of care furnished to individuals. Makes appropriations for FY2010-FY2019. (Sec. 3022, as modified by Sec. 10307) Directs the Secretary to establish a shared savings program that:
(1) promotes accountability for a patient population;
(2) coordinates items and services under Medicare parts A and B; and
(3) encourages investment in infrastructure and redesigned care processes for high quality and efficient service delivery. (Sec. 3023, as modified by Sec. 10308) Directs the Secretary to establish a pilot program for integrated care (involving payment bundling) during an episode of care provided to an applicable beneficiary around a hospitalization in order to improve the coordination, quality, and efficiency of health care services.
Directs the Secretary to conduct a demonstration program to test a payment incentive and service delivery model that utilizes physician and nurse practitioner directed home-based primary care teams designed to reduce expenditures and improve health outcomes in the provision of items and services to applicable beneficiaries. (Sec. 3025, as modified by Sec. 10309) Requires the Secretary to establish a hospital readmissions reduction program involving certain payment adjustments, effective for discharges on or after October 1, 2012, for certain potentially preventable Medicare inpatient hospital readmissions. Directs the Secretary to make available a program for hospitals with a high severity adjusted readmission rate to improve their readmission rates through the use of patient safety organizations.
Directs the Secretary to establish a Community-Based Care Transitions Program which provides funding to eligible entities that furnish improved care transitions services to high-risk Medicare beneficiaries.
Amends the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 to extend certain Gainsharing Demonstration Projects through FY2011. Subtitle B: Improving Medicare for Patients and Providers - Part 1: Ensuring Beneficiary Access to Physician Care and Other Services -
Extends through calendar 2010 the floor on geographic indexing adjustments to the work portion of the physician fee schedule. Revises requirements for calculation of the practice expense portion of the geographic adjustment factor applied in a fee schedule area for services furnished in 2010 or 2011. Directs the Secretary to analyze current methods of establishing practice expense geographic adjustments and make appropriate further adjustments (a new methodology) to such adjustments for 2010 and subsequent years.
Extends the process allowing exceptions to limitations on medically necessary therapy caps through December 31, 2010.
Amends the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000 to extend until January 1, 2010, an exception to a payment rule that permits laboratories to receive direct Medicare reimbursement when providing the technical component of certain physician pathology services that had been outsourced by certain (rural) hospitals. (Sec. 3105, as modified by Sec. 10311) Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare)to extend the bonus and increased payments for ground ambulance services until January 1, 2011. Amends the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) to extend the payment of certain urban air ambulance services until January 1, 2011. (Sec. 3106, as modified by Sec. 10312) Amends the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007, as modified by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to extend for two years:
(1) certain payment rules for long-term care hospital services; and
(2) a certain moratorium on the establishment of certain hospitals and facilities.
Amends MIPPA to extend the physician fee schedule mental health add-on payment provision through December 31, 2010.
Allows a physician assistant who does not have a direct or indirect employment relationship with a SNF, but who is working in collaboration with a physician, to certify the need for post-hospital extended care services for Medicare payment purposes.
Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare), as modified by MIPPA, to exempt certain pharmacies from accreditation requirements until the Secretary develops pharmacy-specific standards.
Creates a special part B enrollment period for military retirees, their spouses (including widows/ widowers), and dependent children, who are otherwise eligible for TRICARE (the health care plan under the Department of Defense [DOD]) and entitled to Medicare part A (Hospital Insurance) based on disability or end stage renal disease, but who have declined Medicare part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance).
Sets payments for dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry services in 2010 and 2011 at 70% of the 2006 reimbursement rates. Directs the Secretary to arrange with the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies to study and report to the Secretary and Congress on the ramifications of Medicare reimbursement reductions for such services on beneficiary access to bone mass measurement benefits.
Eliminates funding in the Medicare Improvement Fund FY2014.
Directs the Secretary to conduct a demonstration project under Medicare part B of separate payments for complex diagnostic laboratory tests provided to individuals.
Increases from 65% to 100% of the fee schedule amount provided for the same service performed by a physician the fee schedule for certified-midwife services provided on or after January 1, 2011. Part II: Rural Protections -
Extends through 2010 hold harmless provisions under the prospective payment system for hospital outpatient department services.Removes the 100-bed limitation for sole community hospitals so all such hospitals receive an 85% increase in the payment difference in 2010.
Amends the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, as modified by other federal law, to extend from July 1, 2010, until July 1, 2011, the reasonable cost reimbursement for clinical diagnostic laboratory service for qualifying rural hospitals with under 50 beds. (Sec. 3123, as modified by Sec. 10313) Extends the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program for five additional years. Expands the maximum number of participating hospitals to 30, and to 20 the number of demonstration states with low population densities.
Extends the Medicare-dependent Hospital Program through FY2012. (Sec. 3125, as modified by Sec. 10314) Modifies the Medicare inpatient hospital payment adjustment for low-volume hospitals for FY2011-FY2012.
Revises requirements for the Demonstration Project on Community Health Integration Models in Certain Rural Counties to allow additional counties as well as physicians to participate.
Directs MEDPAC to study and report to Congress on the adequacy of payments for items and services furnished by service providers and suppliers in rural areas under the Medicare program.
Allows a critical access hospital to continue to be eligible to receive 101% of reasonable costs for providing:
(1) outpatient care regardless of the eligible billing method such hospital uses; and
(2) qualifying ambulance services.
Extends through FY2012 FLEX grants under the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program. Allows the use of grant funding to assist small rural hospitals to participate in delivery system reforms. Part III: Improving Payment Accuracy - (Sec. 3131, as modified by Sec. 10315) Requires the Secretary, starting in 2014, to rebase home health payments by an appropriate percentage, among other things, to reflect the number, mix, and level of intensity of home health services in an episode, and the average cost of providing care. Directs the Secretary to study and report to Congress on home health agency costs involved with providing ongoing access to care to low-income Medicare beneficiaries or beneficiaries in medically underserved areas, and in treating beneficiaries with varying levels of severity of illness. Authorizes a Medicare demonstration project based on the study results.
Requires the Secretary, by January 1, 2011, to begin collecting additional data and information needed to revise payments for hospice care. Directs the Secretary, not earlier than October 1, 2013, to implement, by regulation, budget neutral revisions to the methodology for determining hospice payments for routine home care and other services, which may include per diem payments reflecting changes in resource intensity in providing such care and services during the course of an entire episode of hospice care. Requires the Secretary to impose new requirements on hospice providers participating in Medicare, including requirements for:
(1) a hospice physician or nurse practitioner to have a face-to-face encounter with the individual regarding eligibility and recertification; and
(2) a medical review of any stays exceeding 180 days, where the number of such cases exceeds a specified percentage of them for all hospice programs. (Sec. 3133, as modified by Sec. 10316) Specifies reductions to Medicare DSH payments for FY2015 and ensuing fiscal years, especially to subsection (d) hospitals, to reflect lower uncompensated care costs relative to increases in the number of insured.(Generally, a subsection [d] hospital is an acute care hospital, particularly one that receives payments under Medicare's inpatient prospective payment system when providing covered inpatient services to eligible beneficiaries.)
Directs the Secretary periodically to identify physician services as being potentially misvalued, and make appropriate adjustments to the relative values of such services under the Medicare physician fee schedule.
Increases the presumed utilization rate for calculating the payment for advanced imaging equipment other than low-tech imaging such as ultrasound, x-rays and EKGs. Increases the technical component payment "discount" for sequential imaging services on contiguous body parts during the same visit.
Restricts the lump-sum payment option for new or replacement chairs to the complex, rehabilitative power-driven wheelchairs only. Eliminates the lump-sum payment option for all other power-driven wheelchairs. Makes the rental payment for power-driven wheelchairs 15% of the purchase price for each of the first three months (instead of 10%), and 6% of the purchase price for each of the remaining 10 months of the rental period (instead of 7.5%). (Sec. 3137, as modified by Sec. 10317) Amends the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, as modified by other federal law, to extend "Section 508" hospital reclassifications until September 30, 2010, with a special rule for FY2010. ("Section 508" refers to Section 508 of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which allows the temporary reclassification of a hospital with a low Medicare area wage index, for reimbursement purposes, to a nearby location with a higher Medicare area wage index, so that the "Section 508 hospital" will receive the higher Medicare reimbursement rate.) Directs the Secretary to report to Congress a plan to reform the hospital wage index system.
Requires the Secretary to determine if the outpatient costs incurred by inpatient prospective payment system-exempt cancer hospitals, including those for drugs and biologicals, with respect to Medicare ambulatory payment classification groups, exceed those costs incurred by other hospitals reimbursed under the outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS). Requires the Secretary, if this is so, to provide for an appropriate OPPS adjustment to reflect such higher costs for services furnished on or after January 1, 2011.
Allows a biosimilar biological product to be reimbursed at 6% of the average sales price of the brand biological product.
Directs the Secretary to establish a Medicare Hospice Concurrent Care demonstration program under which Medicare beneficiaries are furnished, during the same period, hospice care and any other Medicare items or services from Medicare funds otherwise paid to such hospice programs.
Requires application of the budget neutrality requirement associated with the effect of the imputed rural floor on the area wage index under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 through a uniform national, instead of state-by-state, adjustment to the area hospital wage index floor.
Directs the Secretary to study and report to Congress on the need for an additional payment for urban Medicare-dependent hospitals for inpatient hospital services under Medicare.
Declares that nothing in this Act shall result in the reduction of guaranteed home health benefits under the Medicare program. Subtitle C: Provisions Relating to Part C - (Sec. 3201, as modified by Sec. 10318) Bases the MedicareAdvantage (MA) benchmark on the average of the bids from MA plans in each market. Revises the formula for calculating the annual Medicare+Choice capitation rate to reduce the national MA per capita Medicare+Choice growth percentage used to increase benchmarks in 2011. Increases the monthly MA plan rebates from 75% to 100% of the average per capita savings. Requires that bid information which MA plans are required to submit to the Secretary be certified by a member of the American Academy of Actuaries and meet actuarial guidelines and rules established by the Secretary. Directs the Secretary, acting through the CMMS Chief Actuary, to establish actuarial guidelines for the submission of bid information and bidding rules that are appropriate to ensure accurate bids and fair competition among MA plans. Directs the Secretary to:
(1) establish new MA payment areas for urban areas based on the Core Based Statistical Area; and
(2) make monthly care coordination and management performance bonus payments, quality performance bonus payments, and quality bonuses for new and low enrollment MA plans, to MA plans that meet certain criteria. Directs the Secretary to provide transitional rebates for the provision of extra benefits to enrollees.
Prohibits MA plans from charging beneficiaries cost sharing for chemotherapy administration services, renal dialysis services, or skilled nursing care that is greater than what is charged under the traditional fee-for-service program. Requires MA plans to apply the full amount of rebates, bonuses, and supplemental premiums according to the following order:
(1) reduction of cost sharing,
(2) coverage of preventive care and wellness benefits, and
(3) other benefits not covered under the original Medicare fee-for-service program.
Requires the Secretary to analyze the differences in coding patterns between MA and the original Medicare fee-for-service programs. Authorizes the Secretary to incorporate the results of the analysis into risk scores for 2014 and subsequent years.
Allows beneficiaries to disenroll from an MA plan and return to the traditional Medicare fee-for-service program from January 1 to March 15 of each year. Revises requirements for annual beneficiary election periods.
Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare), as modified by MIPPA, to extend special needs plan (SNP) authority through December 31, 2013. Authorizes the Secretary to establish a frailty payment adjustment under PACE payment rules for fully-integrated, dual-eligible SNPs. Extends authority through calendar 2012 for SNPs that do not have contracts with state Medicaid programs to continue to operate, but not to expand their service areas. Directs the Secretary to require an MA organization offering a specialized MA plan for special needs individuals to be approved by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Requires the Secretary to use a risk score reflecting the known underlying risk profile and chronic health status of similar individuals, instead of the default risk score, for new enrollees in MA plans that are not specialized MA SNPs.
Extends through calendar 2012 the length of time reasonable cost plans may continue operating regardless of any other MA plans serving the area.
Creates a new type of MA plan called an MA Senior Housing Facility Plan, which would be allowed to limit its service area to a senior housing facility (continuing care retirement community) within a geographic area.
Declares that the Secretary is not required to accept any or every bid submitted by an MA plan or Medicare part D prescription drug plan that proposes to increase significantly any beneficiary cost sharing or decrease benefits offered.
Directs the Secretary to request the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to develop new standards for certain Medigap plans. Subtitle D: Medicare Part D Improvements for Prescription Drug Plans and MA-PD Plans -
Amends Medicare part D (Voluntary Prescription Drug Benefit Program) to establish conditions for the availability of coverage for part D drugs. Requires the manufacturer to participate in the Medicare coverage gap discount program. Directs the Secretary to establish such a program.
Excludes the MA rebate amounts and quality bonus payments from calculation of the regional low-income subsidy benchmark premium for MA monthly prescription drug beneficiaries.
Directs the Secretary to permit a prescription drug plan or an MA-PD plan to waive the monthly beneficiary premium for a subsidy eligible individual if the amount of such premium is de minimis. Provides that, if such premium is waived, the Secretary shall not reassign subsidy eligible individuals enrolled in the plan to other plans based on the fact that the monthly beneficiary premium under the plan was greater than the low-income benchmark premium amount. Authorizes the Secretary to auto-enroll subsidy eligible individuals in plans that waive de minimis premiums.
Sets forth a special rule for widows and widowers regarding eligibility for low-income assistance. Allows the surviving spouse of an eligible couple to delay redetermination of eligibility for one year after the death of a spouse.
Directs the Secretary, in the case of a subsidy eligible individual enrolled in one prescription drug plan but subsequently reassigned by the Secretary to a new prescription drug plan, to provide the individual with:
(1) information on formulary differences between the individual's former plan and the new plan with respect to the individual's drug regimens; and
(2) a description of the individual's right to request a coverage determination, exception, or reconsideration, bring an appeal, or resolve a grievance.
Amends MIPPA to provide additional funding for FY2010-FY2012 for outreach and education activities related to specified Medicare low-income assistance programs.
Authorizes the Secretary to identify classes of clinical concern through rulemaking, including anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antineoplastics, antipsychotics, antiretrovirals, and immunosuppressants for the treatment of transplant rejection. Requires prescription drug plan sponsors to include all drugs in these classes in their formularies.
Requires part D enrollees who exceed certain income thresholds to pay higher premiums. Revises the current authority of the IRS to disclose income information to the Social Security Administration for purposes of adjusting the part B subsidy.
Eliminates cost sharing for certain dual eligible individuals receiving care under a home and community-based waiver program who would otherwise require institutional care.
Directs the Secretary to require sponsors of prescription drug plans to utilize specific, uniform techniques for dispensing covered part D drugs to enrollees who reside in an long-term care facility in order to reduce waste associated with 30-day refills.
Directs the Secretary to develop and maintain an easy to use complaint system to collect and maintain information on MA-PD plan and prescription drug complaints received by the Secretary until the complaint is resolved.
Requires a prescription drug plan sponsor to:
(1) use a single, uniform exceptions and appeals process for determination of a plan enrollee's prescription drug coverage; and
(2) provide instant access to this process through a toll-free telephone number and an Internet website.
Requires the HHS Inspector General to study and report to Congress on the inclusion in formularies of:
(1) drugs commonly used by dual eligibles; and
(2) prescription drug prices under Medicare part D and Medicaid.
Allows the costs incurred by AIDS drug assistance programs and by IHS in providing prescription drugs to count toward the annual out-of-pocket threshold.
Increases by $500 the 2010 standard initial coverage limit (thus decreasing the time that a part D enrollee would be in the coverage gap). Subtitle E: Ensuring Medicare Sustainability - (Sec. 3401, as modified by Sec. 10319 and Sec. 10322) Revises certain market basket updates and incorporates a full productivity adjustment into any updates that do not already incorporate such adjustments, including inpatient hospitals, home health providers, nursing homes, hospice providers, inpatient psychiatric facilities, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and Part B providers. Establishes a quality measure reporting program for psychiatric hospitals beginning in FY2014.
Revises requirements for reduction of the Medicare part B premium subsidy based on income. Maintains the current 2010 income thresholds for the period of 2011 through 2019. (Sec. 3403, as modified by Sec. 10320) Establishes an Independent Medicare Advisory Board to develop and submit detailed proposals to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending to the President for the Congress to consider. Establishes a consumer advisory council to advise the Board on the impact of payment policies under this title on consumers. Subtitle F: Health Care Quality Improvements -
Amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to conduct or support activities for best practices in the delivery of health care services and support research on the development of tools to facilitate adoption of best practices that improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care delivery services. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2014. Requires the AHRQ Director, through the AHRQ Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, to award grants or contracts to eligible entities to provide technical support or to implement models and practices identified in the research conducted by the Center. (Sec. 3502, as modified by Sec. 10321) Directs the Secretary to establish a program to provide grants to or enter into contracts with eligible entities to establish community-based interdisciplinary, interprofessional teams to support primary care practices, including obstetrics and gynecology practices, within the hospital service areas served by the eligible entities.
Directs the Secretary, acting through the Patient Safety Research Center, to establish a program to provide grants or contracts to eligible entities to implement medication management services provided by licensed pharmacists, as a collaborative multidisciplinary, inter-professional approach to the treatment of chronic diseases for targeted individuals, to improve the quality of care and reduce overall cost in the treatment of such disease.
Directs the Secretary, acting through the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, to award at least four multiyear contracts or competitive grants to eligible entities to support pilot projects that design, implement, and evaluate innovative models of regionalized, comprehensive, and accountable emergency care and trauma systems. Requires the Secretary to support federal programs administered by the National Institutes of Health, the AHRQ, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the CMMS, and other agencies involved in improving the emergency care system to expand and accelerate research in emergency medical care systems and emergency medicine. Directs the Secretary to support federal programs administered by the such agencies to coordinate and expand research in pediatric emergency medical care systems and pediatric emergency medicine. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2014.
Requires the Secretary to establish three programs to award grants to qualified public, nonprofit IHS, Indian tribal, and urban Indian trauma centers to:
(1) assist in defraying substantial uncompensated care costs;
(2) further the core missions of such trauma centers, including by addressing costs associated with patient stabilization and transfer; and
(3) provide emergency relief to ensure the continued and future availability of trauma services. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2015. Directs the Secretary to provide funding to states to enable them to award grants to eligible entities for trauma services. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2015.
Directs the Secretary to:
(1) establish a program to award grants or contracts to develop, update, and produce patient decision aids to assist health care providers and patients;
(2) establish a program to provide for the phased-in development, implementation, and evaluation of shared decision making using patient decision aids to meet the objective of improving the understanding of patients of their medical treatment options; and
(3) award grants for establishment and support of Shared Decisionmaking Resource Centers. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010 and subsequent fiscal years.
Requires the Secretary, acting through the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, to determine whether the addition of quantitative summaries of the benefits and risks of prescription drugs in a standardized format to the promotional labeling or print advertising of such drugs would improve heath care decisionmaking by clinicians and patients and consumers.
Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to eligible entities or consortia to carry out demonstration projects to develop and implement academic curricula that integrate quality improvement and patient safety in the clinical education of health professionals.
Establishes an Office on Women's Health within the Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Office of the AHRQ Director, the Office of the Administrator of HRSA, and the Office of the Commissioner of Food and Drugs. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2014 for all such Offices on Women's Health.
Extends from three years to four years the duration of a patient navigator grant. Prohibits the Secretary from awarding such a grant unless the recipient entity provides assurances that patient navigators recruited, assigned, trained, or employed using grant funds meet minimum core proficiencies tailored for the main focus or intervention of the navigator involved. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2015.
Authorizes appropriations to carry out this title, except where otherwise provided in the title. (Sec. 3512, as added by Sec. 10201) Directs the Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on whether the development, recognition, or implementation of any guideline or other standards under specified provisions of this Act would result in the establishment of a new cause of action or claim. Subtitle G: Protecting and Improving Guaranteed Medicare Benefits -
Provides that nothing in this Act shall result in a reduction of guaranteed benefits under the Medicare program. States that savings generated for the Medicare program under this Act shall extend the solvency of the Medicare trust funds, reduce Medicare premiums and other cost-sharing for beneficiaries, and improve or expand guaranteed Medicare benefits and protect access to Medicare providers.
Declares that nothing in this Act shall result in the reduction or elimination of any benefits guaranteed by law to participants in MA plans. Title IV: Prevention of Chronic Disease and Improving Public Health - Subtitle A: Modernizing Disease Prevention and Public Health Systems - (Sec. 4001, as modified by Sec. 10401) Requires the President to:
(1) establish the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council;
(2) establish the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health; and
(3) appoint the Surgeon General as Chairperson of the Council in order to develop a national prevention, health promotion, and public health strategy. Requires the Secretary and the Comptroller General to conduct periodic reviews and evaluations of every federal disease prevention and health promotion initiative, program, and agency. (Sec. 4002, as modified by Sec. 10401) Establishes a Prevention and Public Health Fund to provide for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs to improve health and help restrain the rate of growth in private and public sector health care costs. Authorizes appropriations and appropriates money to such Fund. (Sec 4003) Requires (currently, allows) the Director of AHRQ to convene the Preventive Services Task Force to review scientific evidence related to the effectiveness, appropriateness, and cost-effectiveness of clinical preventive services for the purpose of developing recommendations for the health care community. Requires the Director of CDC to convene an independent Community Preventive Services Task Force to review scientific evidence related to the effectiveness, appropriateness, and cost-effectiveness of community preventive interventions for the purpose of developing recommendations for individuals and organizations delivering populations-based services and other policy makers (Sec. 4004, as modified by Sec. 10401) Requires the Secretary to provide for the planning and implementation of a national public-private partnership for a prevention and health promotion outreach and education campaign to raise public awareness of health improvement across the life span. Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to:
(1) establish and implement a national science-based media campaign on health promotion and disease prevention; and
(2) enter into a contract for the development and operation of a federal website personalized prevention plan tool. Subtitle B: Increasing Access to Clinical Preventive Services - (Sec. 4101, as modified by Sec. 10402) Requires the Secretary to establish a program to award grants to eligible entities to support the operation of school-based health centers.
Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to carry out oral health activities, including:
(1) establishing a national public education campaign that is focused on oral health care prevention and education;
(2) awarding demonstration grants for research-based dental caries disease management activities;
(3) awarding grants for the development of school-based dental sealant programs; and
(4) entering into cooperative agreements with state, territorial, and Indian tribes or tribal organizations for oral health data collection and interpretation, a delivery system for oral health, and science-based programs to improve oral health. Requires the Secretary to:
(1) update and improve the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System as it relates to oral health care;
(2) develop oral health care components for inclusion in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; and
(3) ensure that the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey by AHRQ includes the verification of dental utilization, expenditure, and coverage findings through conduct of a look-back analysis. (Sec. 4103, as modified by Sec. 10402) Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare) to provide coverage of personalized prevention plan services, including a health risk assessment, for individuals. Prohibits cost-sharing for such services. (Sec. 4104, as modified by Sec. 10406) Eliminates cost-sharing for certain preventive services recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force.
Authorizes the Secretary to modify Medicare coverage of any preventive service consistent with the recommendations of such Task Force.
Amends SSA title XIX (Medicaid) to provide Medicaid coverage of preventive services and approved vaccines. Increases the FMAPfor such services and vaccines.
Provides for Medicaid coverage of counseling and pharmacotherapy for cessation of tobacco use by pregnant women.
Requires the Secretary to award grants to states to carry out initiatives to provide incentives to Medicaid beneficiaries who participate in programs to lower health risk and demonstrate changes in health risk and outcomes. Subtitle C: Creating Healthier Communities - (Sec. 4201, as modified by Sec. 10403) Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to award grants to state and local governmental agencies and community-based organizations for the implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based community preventive health activities in order to reduce chronic disease rates, prevent the development of secondary conditions, address health disparities, and develop a stronger evidence base of effective prevention programming.
Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to award grants to state or local health departments and Indian tribes to carry out pilot programs to provide public health community interventions, screenings, and clinical referrals for individuals who are between 55 and 64 years of age. Requires the Secretary to:
(1) conduct an evaluation of community-based prevention and wellness programs and develop a plan for promoting healthy lifestyles and chronic disease self-management for Medicare beneficiaries; and
(2) evaluate community prevention and wellness programs that have demonstrated potential to help Medicare beneficiaries reduce their risk of disease, disability, and injury by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Amends the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board to promulgate standards setting forth the minimum technical criteria for medical diagnostic equipment used in medical settings to ensure that such equipment is accessible to, and usable by, individuals with accessibility needs.
Authorizes the Secretary to negotiate and enter into contracts with vaccine manufacturers for the purchase and delivery of vaccines for adults. Allows a state to purchase additional quantities of adult vaccines from manufacturers at the applicable price negotiated by the Secretary. Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to establish a demonstration program to award grants to states to improve the provision of recommended immunizations for children and adults through the use of evidence-based, population-based interventions for high-risk populations. Reauthorizes appropriations for preventive health service programs to immunize children and adults against vaccine-preventable diseases without charge. Requires the Comptroller General to study the ability of Medicare beneficiaries who are 65 years or older to access routinely recommended vaccines covered under the prescription drug program since its establishment.
Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require the labeling of a food item offered for sale in a retail food establishment that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations under the same name to disclose on the menu and menu board:
(1) the number of calories contained in the standard menu item;
(2) the suggested daily caloric intake; and
(3) the availability on the premises and upon request of specified additional nutrient information. Requires self-service facilities to place adjacent to each food offered a sign that lists calories per displayed food item or per serving. Requires vending machine operators who operate 20 or more vending machines to provide a sign disclosing the number of calories contained in each article of food.
Requires the Secretary to establish a pilot program to test the impact of providing at-risk populations who utilize community health centers an individualized wellness plan designed to reduce risk factors for preventable conditions as identified by a comprehensive risk-factor assessment.
Amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to require employers to provide a reasonable break time and a suitable place, other than a bathroom, for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child. Excludes an employer with less than 50 employees if such requirements would impose an undue hardship. Subtitle D: Support for Prevention and Public Health Innovation -
Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to provide funding for research in the area of public health services and systems.
Requires the Secretary to ensure that any federally conduced or supported health care or public health program, activity, or survey collects and reports specified demographic data regarding health disparities. Requires the Secretary, acting through the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, to develop:
(1) national standards for the management of data collected; and
(2) interoperability and security systems for data management. (Sec. 4303, as modified by Sec. 10404) Requires the Director of CDC to:
(1) provide employers with technical assistance, consultation, tools, and other resources in evaluating employer-based wellness programs; and
(2) build evaluation capacity among workplace staff by training employers on how to evaluate such wellness programs and ensuring that evaluation resources, technical assistance, and consultation are available. Requires the Director of CDC to conduct a national worksite health policies and programs survey to assess employer-based health policies and programs.
Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to establish an Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Grant Program to award grants to assist public health agencies in improving surveillance for, and response to, infectious diseases and other conditions of public health importance.
Requires the Secretary to:
(1) enter into an agreement with the Institute of Medicine to convene a Conference on Pain, the purposes of which shall include to increase the recognition of pain as a significant public health problem in the United States; and
(2) establish the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee.
Appropriates funds to carry out childhood obesity demonstration projects. Subtitle E: Miscellaneous Provisions -
Requires the Secretary to evaluate programs to determine whether existing federal health and wellness initiatives are effective in achieving their stated goals. Title V: Health Care Workforce - Subtitle A: Purpose and Definitions -
Declares that the purpose of this title is to improve access to and the delivery of health care services for all individuals, particularly low income, underserved, uninsured, minority, health disparity, and rural populations. Subtitle B: Innovations in the Health Care Workforce - (Sec. 5101, as modified by Sec. 10501) Establishes a National Health Care Workforce Commission to:
(1) review current and projected health care workforce supply and demand; and
(2) make recommendations to Congress and the Administration concerning national health care workforce priorities, goals, and policies.
Establishes a health care workforce development grant program.
Requires the Secretary to establish the National Center for Health Care Workforce Analysis to provide for the development of information describing and analyzing the health care workforce and workforce related issues. Transfers the responsibilities and resources of the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis to the Center created under this section. (Sec. 5104, as added by Sec. 10501) Establishes the Interagency Access to Health Care in Alaska Task Force to:
(1) assess access to health care for beneficiaries of federal health care systems in Alaska; and
(2) develop a strategy to improve delivery to such beneficiaries. Subtitle C: Increasing the Supply of the Health Care Workforce -
Revises student loan repayment provisions related to the length of service requirement for the primary health care loan repayment program.
Increases maximum amount of loans made by schools of nursing to students.
Directs the Secretary to establish and carry out a pediatric specialty loan repayment program.
Requires the Secretary to establish the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program to assure an adequate supply of public health professionals to eliminate critical public health workforce shortages in federal, state, local, and tribal public health agencies.
Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to expand student loan forgiveness to include allied health professionals employed in public health agencies.
Includes public health workforce loan repayment programs as permitted activities under a grant program to increase the number of individuals in the public health workforce. Authorizes the Secretary to provide for scholarships for mid-career professionals in the public health and allied health workforce to receive additional training in the field of public health and allied health.
Authorizes appropriations for the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program and the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.
Requires the Secretary to award grants for the cost of the operation of nurse-managed health clinics.
Eliminates the cap on the number of commissioned officers in the Public Health Service Regular Corps.
Revises the Regular Corps and the Reserve Corps (renamed the Ready Reserve Corps) in the Public Health Service. Sets forth the uses of the Ready Reserve Corps. Subtitle D: Enhancing Health Care Workforce Education and Training -
Sets forth provisions providing for health care professional training programs.
Requires the Secretary to award grants for new training opportunities for direct care workers who are employed in long-term care settings.
Sets forth provisions providing for dentistry professional training programs.
Authorizes the Secretary to award grants for demonstration programs to establish training programs for alternative dental health care providers in order to increase access to dental health services in rural and other underserved communities.
Requires the Secretary to award grants or contracts to entities that operate a geriatric education center to offer short-term, intensive courses that focus on geriatrics, chronic care management, and long-term care. Expands geriatric faculty fellowship programs to make dentists eligible. Reauthorizes and revises the geriatric education programs to allow grant funds to be used for the establishment of traineeships for individuals who are preparing for advanced education nursing degrees in areas that specialize in the care of elderly populations.
Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to institutions of higher education to support the recruitment of students for, and education and clinical experience of the students in, social work programs, psychology programs, child and adolescent mental health, and training of paraprofessional child and adolescent mental health workers.
Authorizes the Secretary, acting through the Administrator of HRSA, to award grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements for the development, evaluation, and dissemination of research, demonstration projects, and model curricula for health professions training in cultural competency, prevention, public health proficiency, reducing health disparities, and working with individuals with disabilities.
Requires nurse-midwifery programs, in order to be eligible for advanced education nursing grants, to have as their objective the education of midwives and to be accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education.
Authorizes the Secretary to award grants or enter into contracts to enhance the nursing workforce by initiating and maintaining nurse retention programs.
Makes nurse faculty at an accredited school of nursing eligible for the nursing education loan repayment program.
Revises the nurse faculty loan repayment program, including to increase the amount of such loans. Authorizes the Secretary, acting through the Administrator of HRSA, to enter into an agreement for the repayment of education loans in exchange for service as a member of a faculty at an accredited school of nursing.
Authorizes appropriations for carrying out nursing workforce programs. (Sec. 5313, as modified by Sec. 10501) Requires the Director of CDC to award grants to eligible entities to promote positive health behaviors and outcomes for populations in medically underserved communities through the use of community health workers.
Authorizes the Secretary to carry out activities to address documented workforce shortages in state and local health departments in the critical areas of applied public health epidemiology and public health laboratory science and informatics.
Authorizes the establishment of the United States Public Health Sciences Track, which is authorized to award advanced degrees in public health, epidemiology, and emergency preparedness and response. Directs the Surgeon General to develop:
(1) an integrated longitudinal plan for health professions continuing education; and
(2) faculty development programs and curricula in decentralized venues of health care to balance urban, tertiary, and inpatient venues. (Sec. 5316, as added by Sec. 10501) Requires the Secretary to establish a training demonstration program for family nurse practitioners to employ and provide one-year training for nurse practitioners serving as primary care providers in federally qualified health centers or nurse-managed health centers. Subtitle E: Supporting the Existing Health Care Workforce -
Revises the allocation of funds to assist schools in supporting programs of excellence in health professions education for underrepresented minority individuals and schools designated as centers of excellence. (Sec. 5402, as modified by Sec. 10501) Makes schools offering physician assistant education programs eligible for loan repayment for health profession faculty. Increases the amount of loan repayment for such program. Authorizes appropriations for:
(1) scholarships for disadvantaged students attending health professions or nursing schools;
(2) loan repayment for health professions faculty; and
(3) grants to health professions school to assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Requires the Secretary to:
(1) make awards for area health education center programs; and
(2) provide for timely dissemination of research findings using relevant resources.
Makes revisions to the grant program to increase nursing education opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to include providing:
(1) stipends for diploma or associate degree nurses to enter a bridge or degree completion program;
(2) student scholarships or stipends for accelerated nursing degree programs; and
(3) advanced education preparation. (Sec. 5405, as modified by Sec. 10501) Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of AHRQ, to establish a Primary Care Extension Program to provide support and assistance to educate primary care providers about preventive medicine, health promotion, chronic disease management, mental and behavioral health services, and evidence-based and evidence-informed therapies and techniques. Requires the Secretary to award grants to states for the establishment of Primary Care Extension Program State Hubs to coordinate state health care functions with quality improvement organizations and area health education centers. Subtitle F: Strengthening Primary Care and Other Workforce Improvements - (Sec. 5501, as modified by Sec. 10501) Requires Medicare incentive payments to:
(1) primary care practitioners providing primary care services on or after January 1, 2011, and before January 1, 2016; and
(2) general surgeons performing major surgical procedures on or after January 1, 2011, and before January 1, 2016, in a health professional shortage area.
Reallocates unused residency positions to qualifying hospitals for primary care residents for purposes of payments to hospitals for graduate medical education costs.
Revises provisions related to graduate medical education costs to count the time residents spend in nonprovider settings toward the full-time equivalency if the hospital incurs the costs of the stipends and fringe benefits of such residents during such time. (Sec. 5505, as modified by Sec. 10501) Includes toward the determination of full-time equivalency for graduate medical education costs time spent by an intern or resident in an approved medical residency training program in a nonprovider setting that is primarily engaged in furnishing patient care in nonpatient care activities.
Directs the Secretary, when a hospital with an approved medical residency program closes, to increase the resident limit for other hospitals based on proximity criteria.
Requires the Secretary to:
(1) award grants for demonstration projects that are designed to provide certain low-income individuals with the opportunity to obtain education and training for health care occupations that pay well and that are expected to experience labor shortages or be in high demand; and
(2) award grants to states to conduct demonstration projects for purposes of developing core training competencies and certification programs for personal or home care aides. Authorizes appropriations for FY2009-FY2012 for family-to-family health information centers.
Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to teaching health centers for the purpose of establishing new accredited or expanded primary care residency programs. Allows up to 50% of time spent teaching by a member of the National Health Service Corps to be considered clinical practice for purposes of fulfilling the service obligation. Requires the Secretary to make payments for direct and indirect expenses to qualified teaching health centers for expansion or establishment of approved graduate medical residency training programs.
Requires the Secretary to establish a graduate nurse education demonstration under which a hospital may receive payment for the hospital's reasonable costs for the provision of qualified clinical training to advance practice nurses. Subtitle G: Improving Access to Health Care Services -
Reauthorizes appropriations for health centers to serve medically underserved populations
Requires the Secretary to establish through the negotiated rulemaking process a comprehensive methodology and criteria for designation of medically underserved populations and health professions shortage areas.
Reauthorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2014 for the expansion and improvement of emergency medical services for children who need treatment for trauma or critical care.
Authorizes the Secretary, acting through the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to award grants and cooperative agreements for demonstration projects for the provision of coordinated and integrated services to special populations through the co-location of primary and specialty care services in community-based mental and behavioral health settings.
Establishes a Commission on Key National Indicators to:
(1) conduct comprehensive oversight of a newly established key national indicators system; and
(2) make recommendations on how to improve such system. Directs the National Academy of Sciences to enable the establishment of such system by creating its own institutional capability or by partnering with an independent private nonprofit organization to implement such system. Directs the Comptroller General to study previous work conducted by all public agencies, private organizations, or foreign countries with respect to best practices for such systems. (Sec. 5606, as added by Sec. 10501) Authorizes a state to award grants to health care providers who treat a high percentage of medically underserved populations or other special populations in the state. Subtitle H: General Provisions -
Requires the Secretary to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on activities carried out under this title and the effectiveness of such activities.Title VI: Transparency and Program Integrity - Subtitle A: Physician Ownership and Other Transparency - (Sec. 6001, as modified by Sec. 10601) Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare) to prohibit physician-owned hospitals that do not have a provider agreement by August 1, 2010, to participate in Medicare. Allows their participation in Medicare under a rural provider and hospital exception to the ownership or investment prohibition if they meet certain requirements addressing conflict of interest, bona fide investments, patient safety issues, and expansion limitations.
Amends SSA title XI to require drug, device, biological and medical supply manufacturers to report to the Secretary transfers of value made to a physician, physician medical practice, a physician group practice, and/or teaching hospital, as well as information on any physician ownership or investment interest in the manufacturer. Provides penalties for noncompliance. Preempts duplicative state or local laws.
Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare), with respect to the Medicare in-office ancillary exception to the prohibition against physician self-referrals, to require a referring physician to inform the patient in writing that the patient may obtain a specified imaging service from a person other than the referring physician, a physician who is a member of the same group practice as the referring physician, or an individual directly supervised by the physician or by another physician in the group practice. Requires the referring physician also to provide the patient with a written list of suppliers who furnish such services in the area in which the patient resides.
Amends SSA title XI to require prescription drug manufacturers and authorized distributors of record to report to the Secretary specified information pertaining to drug samples.
Amends SSA title XI to require a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) or a health benefits plan that manages prescription drug coverage under a contract with a Medicare or Exchange health plan to report to the Secretary information regarding the generic dispensing rate, the rebates, discounts, or price concessions negotiated by the PBM, and the payment difference between health plans and PBMs and the PBMs and pharmacies. Subtitle B: Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement - Part I: Improving Transparency of Information -
Amends SSA title XI to require SNFs under Medicare and nursing facilities (NFs) under Medicaid to make available, upon request by the Secretary, the HHS Inspector General, the states, or a state long-term care ombudsman, information on ownership of the SNF or NF, including a description of the facility's governing body and organizational structure, as well as information regarding additional disclosable parties.
Requires SNFs and NFs to operate a compliance and ethics program effective in preventing and detecting criminal, civil, and administrative violations. Directs the Secretary to establish and implement a quality assurance and performance improvement program for SNFs and NFs, including multi-unit chains of facilities
Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare) to require the Secretary to publish on the Nursing Home Compare Medicare website:
(1) standardized staffing data;
(2) links to state Internet websites regarding state survey and certification programs;
(3) the model standardized complaint form;
(4) a summary of substantiated complaints; and
(5) the number of adjudicated instances of criminal violations by a facility or its employee.
Requires SNFs to report separately expenditures on wages and benefits for direct care staff, breaking out registered nurses, licensed professional nurses, certified nurse assistants, and other medical and therapy staff.
Requires the Secretary to develop a standardized complaint form for use by residents (or a person acting on a resident’s behalf) in filing complaints with a state survey and certification agency and a state long-term care ombudsman program. Requires states to to establish complaint resolution processes.
Amends SSA title XI to require the Secretary to develop a program for facilities to report direct care staffing information on payroll and other verifiable and auditable data in a uniform format based.
Requires the Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on the Five-Star Quality Rating System for nursing homes of CMMS.Part II: Targeting Enforcement -
Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare) to authorize the Secretary to reduce civil monetary penalties by 50% for certain SNFs and NFs that self-report and promptly correct deficiencies within 10 calendar days of imposition of the penalty. Directs the Secretary to issue regulations providing for an informal dispute resolution process after imposition of a penalty, as well as an escrow account for money penalties pending resolution of any appeals.
Directs the Secretary to establish a demonstration project for developing, testing, and implementing a national independent monitor program to oversee interstate and large intrastate chains of SNFs and NFs.
Requires the administrator of a SNF or a NF that is preparing to close to notify in writing residents, legal representatives of residents or other responsible parties, the Secretary, and the state long-term care ombudsman program in advance of the closure by at least 60 days. Requires the notice to include a plan for the transfer and adequate relocation of residents to another facility or alternative setting. Requires the state to ensure a successful relocation of residents.
Requires the Secretary to conduct two SNF- and NF-based demonstration projects to develop best practice models in two areas:
(1) one for facilities involved in the “culture change” movement; and
(2) one for the use of information technology to improve resident care.Part III: Improving Staff Training -
Requires SNFs and NFs to include dementia management and abuse prevention training as part of pre-employment initial training and, if appropriate, as part of ongoing in-service training for permanent and contract or agency staff.Subtitle C: Nationwide Program for National and State Background Checks on Direct Patient Access Employees of Long Term Care Facilities and Providers -
Requires the Secretary to establish a nationwide program for national and state background checks on prospective direct patient access employees of long-term care facilities and providers.Subtitle D: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research - (Sec. 6301, as modified by Sec. 10602) Amends SSA title XI to establish the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to identify priorities for, and establish, update, and carry out, a national comparative outcomes research project agenda. Provides for a peer review process for primary research. Prohibits the Institute from allowing the subsequent use of data from original research in work-for-hire contracts with individuals, entities, or instrumentalities that have a financial interest in the results, unless approved by the Institute under a data use agreement. Amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Office of Communication and Knowledge Transfer at AHRQ to disseminate broadly the research findings published by the Institute and other government-funded research relevant to comparative clinical effective research. Prohibits the Secretary from using evidence and findings from Institute research to make a determination regarding Medicare coverage unless such use is through an iterative and transparent process which includes public comment and considers the effect on subpopulations. Amends the Internal Revenue Code to establish in the Treasury the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund. Directs the Secretary to make transfers to that Trust Fund from the Medicare Trust Funds. Imposes annual fees of $2 times the number of insured lives on each specified health insurance policy and on self-insured health plans.
Terminates the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research upon enactment of this Act.Subtitle E: Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP Program Integrity Provisions - (Sec. 6401, as modified by Sec. 10603) Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare) to require the Secretary to:
(1) establish procedures for screening providers and suppliers participating in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP; and
(2) determine the level of screening according to the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse with respect to each category of provider or supplier.Requires providers and suppliers applying for enrollment or revalidation of enrollment in Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP to disclose current or previous affiliations with any provider or supplier that:
(1) has uncollected debt;
(2) has had its payments suspended;
(3) has been excluded from participating in a federal health care program; or
(4) has had billing privileges revoked. Authorizes the Secretary to deny enrollment in a program if these affiliations pose an undue risk to it. Requires providers and suppliers to establish a compliance program containing specified core elements. Directs the CMMS Administrator to establish a process for making available to each state agency with responsibility for administering a state Medicaid plan or a child health plan under SSA title XXI the identity of any provider or supplier under Medicare or CHIP who is terminated.
Requires CMMS to include in the integrated data repository claims and payment data from Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and health-related programs administered by the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and DOD, the Social Security Administration, and IHS. Directs the Secretary to enter into data-sharing agreements with the Commissioner of Social Security, the VA and DOD Secretaries, and the IHS Director to help identity fraud, waste, and abuse. Requires that overpayments be reported and returned within 60 days from the date the overpayment was identified or by the date a corresponding cost report was due, whichever is later. Directs the Secretary to issue a regulation requiring all Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP providers to include their National Provider Identifier on enrollment applications. Authorizes the Secretary to withhold the federal matching payment to states for medical assistance expenditures whenever a state does not report enrollee encounter data in a timely manner to the state’s Medicaid Management Information System. Authorizes the Secretary to exclude providers and suppliers participation in any federal health care program for providing false information on any application to enroll or participate.Subjects to civil monetary penalties excluded individuals who:
(1) order or prescribe an item or service;
(2) make false statements on applications or contracts to participate in a federal health care program; or
(3) know of an overpayment and do not return it. Subjects the latter offense to civil monetary penalties of up to $50,000 or triple the total amount of the claim involved.Authorizes the Secretary to issue subpoenas and require the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of any other evidence that relates to matters under investigation or in question.Requires the Secretary take into account the volume of billing for a durable medical equipment (DME) supplier or home health agency when determining the size of the supplier's and agency's surety bond. Authorizes the Secretary to require other providers and suppliers to post a surety bond if the Secretary considers them to be at risk.Authorizes the Secretary to suspend payments to a provider or supplier pending a fraud investigation.Appropriates an additional $10 million, adjusted for inflation, to the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control each of FY2011-FY2020. Applies inflation adjustments as well to Medicare Integrity Program funding.Requires the Medicaid Integrity Program and Program contractors to provide the Secretary and the HHS Office of Inspector General with performance statistics, including the number and amount of overpayments recovered, the number of fraud referrals, and the return on investment for such activities.
Requires the Secretary to furnish the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) with all information reported to the national health care fraud and abuse data collection program on certain final adverse actions taken against health care providers, suppliers, and practitioners. Requires the Secretary to establish a process to terminate the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Databank (HIPDB) and ensure that the information formerly collected in it is transferred to the NPDB.
Reduces from three years to one year after the date of service the maximum period for submission of Medicare claims.(Sec. 6405, as modified by Sec. 10604) Requires DME or home health services to be ordered by an enrolled Medicare eligible professional or physician. Authorizes the Secretary to extend these requirements to other Medicare items and services to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse.
Authorizes the Secretary to disenroll, for up to one year, a Medicare enrolled physician or supplier that fails to maintain and provide access to written orders or requests for payment for DME, certification for home health services, or referrals for other items and services. Authorizes the Secretary to exclude from participation in any federal health care program any individual or entity ordering, referring for furnishing, or certifying the need for an item or service that fails to provide adequate documentation to verify payment.(Sec. 6407, as modified by Sec. 10605) Requires a physician, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse-midwife, or physician assistant to have a face-to-face encounter with an individual before issuing a certification for home health services or DME. Authorizes the Secretary to apply the same face-to-face encounter requirement to other items and services based upon a finding that doing so would reduce the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse. Applies the same requirement, as well, to physicians making certifications for home health services under Medicaid.
Revises civil monetary penalties for making false statements or delaying inspections. Applies specified enhanced sanctions and civil monetary penalties to MA or Part D plans that:
(1) enroll individuals in an MA or Part D plan without their consent;
(2) transfer an individual from one plan to another for the purpose of earning a commission;
(3) fail to comply with marketing requirements and CMMS guidance; or
(4) employ or contract with an individual or entity that commits a violation.
Requires the Secretary to establish a self-referral disclosure protocol to enable health care providers and suppliers to disclose actual or potential violations of the physician self-referral law. Authorizes the Secretary to reduce the amount due and owing for all violations of such law.
Requires the Secretary to:
(1) expand the number of areas to be included in round two of the competitive bidding program from 79 to 100 of the largest metropolitan statistical areas ; and
(2) use competitively bid prices in all areas by 2016.
Requires states to establish contracts with one or more Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs), which shall identify underpayments and overpayments and recoup overpayments made for services provided under state Medicaid plans as well as state plan waivers. Requires the Secretary to expand the RAC program to Medicare parts C (Medicare+Choice) and D (Prescription Drug Program).Subtitle F: Additional Medicaid Program Integrity Provisions -
Amends SSA title XIX (Medicaid) to require states to terminate individuals or entities (providers) from their Medicaid programs if they were terminated from Medicare or another state’s Medicaid program.
Requires Medicaid agencies to exclude individuals or entities from participating in Medicaid for a specified period of time if the entity or individual owns, controls, or manages an entity that:
(1) has failed to repay overpayments during a specified period;
(2) is suspended, excluded, or terminated from participation in any Medicaid program; or
(3) is affiliated with an individual or entity that has been suspended, excluded, or terminated from Medicaid participation.
Requires state Medicaid plans to require any billing agents, clearinghouses, or other alternate payees that submit claims on behalf of health care providers to register with the state and the Secretary.
Requires states to submit data elements from the state mechanized claims processing and information retrieval system (under the Medicaid Statistical Information System) that the Secretary determines necessary for program integrity, program oversight, and administration. Requires a Medicaid managed care entity contract to provide for maintenance of sufficient patient encounter data to identify the physician who delivers services to patients (as under current law) at a frequency and level of detail to be specified by the Secretary.
Requires a state Medicaid plan to prohibit the state from making any payments for items or services under a Medicaid state plan or a waiver to any financial institution or entity located outside of the United States.
Extends the period for states to recover overpayments from 60 days to one year after discovery of the overpayment. Declares that, when overpayments due to fraud are pending, state repayments of the federal portion of such overpayments shall not be due until 30 days after the date of the final administrative or judicial judgment on the matter.
Requires state mechanized Medicaid claims processing and information retrieval systems to incorporate methodologies compatible with Medicare’s National Correct Coding Initiative .Subtitle G: Additional Program Integrity Provisions -
Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to prohibit employees and agents of multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs), subject to criminal penalties, from making false statements in marketing materials regarding an employee welfare benefit plan’s financial solvency, benefits, or regulatory status.
Amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Secretary to request NAIC to develop a model uniform report form for a private health insurance issuer seeking to refer suspected fraud and abuse to state insurance departments or other responsible state agencies for investigation.
Amends ERISA to direct the Secretary of Labor to adopt regulatory standards and/or issue orders to subject MEWAs to state law relating to fraud and abuse.
Authorizes the Secretary of Labor to:
(1) issue cease-and-desist orders to shut down temporarily the operations of MEWAs conducting fraudulent activities or posing a serious threat to the public, until hearings can be completed; and
(2) seize a plan's assets if it appears that the plan is in a financially hazardous condition.
Directs the Secretary of Labor to require MEWAs which are not group health plans to register with the Department of Labor before operating in a state.
Authorizes the Secretary of Labor to promulgate a regulation providing an evidentiary privilege that allows confidential communication among specified federal and state officials relating to investigation of fraud and abuse. Subtitle H: Elder Justice Act - Elder Justice Act of 2009 -
Amends SSA title XX (Block Grants to States for Social Services) with respect to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation and their prevention. Requires the HHS Secretary to award grants and carry out activities that provide:
(1) greater protection to those individuals seeking care in facilities that provide long-term care services and supports; and
(2) greater incentives for individuals to train and seek employment at such facilities.Requires facility owners, operators, and certain employees to report suspected crimes committed at a facility. Requires facility owners or operators also to:
(1) submit to the Secretary and to the state written notification of an impending closure of a facility within 60 days before the closure; and
(2) include a plan for transfer and adequate relocation of all residents. Establishes an Elder Justice Coordinating Council. Subtitle I: Sense of the Senate Regarding Medical Malpractice -
Expresses the sense of the Senate that:
(1) health reform presents an opportunity to address issues related to medical malpractice and medical liability insurance;
(2) states should be encouraged to develop and test alternative models to the existing civil litigation system; and
(3) Congress should consider state demonstration projects to evaluate such alternatives. Title VII: Improving Access to Innovative Medical Therapies - Subtitle A: Biologics Price Competition and Innovation - Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 -
Amends the Public Health Service Act to allow a person to submit an application for licensure of a biological product based on its similarity to a licensed biological product (the reference product). Requires the Secretary to license the biological product if it is biosimilar to or interchangeable with the reference product. Prohibits the Secretary from determining that a second or subsequent biological product is interchangeable with a reference product for any condition of use for specified periods based on the marketing of, and the presence or status of litigation involving, the first biosimilar biological product deemed interchangeable with the same reference product. Prohibits the Secretary from making approval of an application under this Act effective until 12 years after the date on which the reference product was first licensed. Subtitle B: More Affordable Medicine for Children and Underserved Communities -
Expands the 340B drug discount program (a program limiting the cost of covered outpatient drugs to certain federal grantees) to allow participation as a covered entity by certain:
(1) children's hospitals;
(2) freestanding cancer hospitals;
(3) critical access hospitals;
(4) rural referral centers; and
(5) sole community hospitals. Expands the program to include drugs used in connection with an inpatient or outpatient service by enrolled hospitals (currently, only outpatient drugs are covered under the program). Prohibits enrolled hospitals from obtaining covered outpatient drugs through a group purchasing arrangement. Requires the Secretary to establish reasonable exceptions to such prohibition, including for drugs unavailable through the program and to facilitate generic substitution when a generic covered drug is available at a lower price. Requires a hospital enrolled in the 340B drug discount program to issue a credit to a state Medicaid program for inpatient covered drugs provided to Medicaid recipients.
Requires the Secretary to:
(1) provide for improvements in compliance by manufacturers and covered entities with the requirements of the 340B drug discount program; and
(2) establish and implement an administrative process for resolving claims by covered entities and manufacturers of violations of such requirements. Requires manufacturers to offer each covered entity covered drugs for purchase at or below the applicable ceiling price if such a drug is made available to any other purchaser at any price.
Requires the Comptroller General to report to Congress on whether those individuals served by the covered entities under the 340B drug discount program are receiving optimal health care services. Title VIII: Class Act - Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act or the CLASS Act - (Sec. 8002, as modified by Sec. 10801) Establishes a national, voluntary insurance program for purchasing community living assistance services and supports (CLASS program) under which:
(1) all employees are automatically enrolled, but are allowed to waive enrollment;
(2) payroll deductions pay monthly premiums; and
(3) benefits under a CLASS Independence Benefit Plan provide individuals with functional limitations with tools that will allow them to maintain their personal and financial independence and live in the community.Title IX: Revenue Provisions - Subtitle A: Revenue Offset Provisions - (Sec. 9001, as modified by section 10901) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to impose an excise tax of 40% of the excess benefit from certain high cost employer-sponsored health coverage. Deems any amount which exceeds payment of $8,500 for an employee self-only coverage plan and $23,000 for employees with other than self-only coverage (family plans) as an excess benefit. Increases such amounts for certain retirees and employees who are engaged in high-risk professions (e.g., law enforcement officers, emergency medical first responders, or longshoremen). Imposes a penalty on employers and coverage providers for failure to calculate the proper amount of an excess benefit.
Requires employers to include in the W-2 form of each employee the aggregate cost of applicable employer-sponsored group health coverage that is excludable from the employee's gross income (excluding the value of contributions to flexible spending arrangements).
Restricts payments from health savings accounts, medical savings accounts, and heath flexible spending arrangements for medications to prescription drugs or insulin.
Increases to 20% the penalty for distributions from a health savings account or Archer medical savings account not used for qualified medical expenses. (Sec. 9005, as modified by section 10902) Limits annual salary reduction contributions by an employee to a health flexible spending arrangement under a cafeteria plan to $2,500. Allows an annual inflation adjustment to such amount after 2011.
Expands reporting requirements for payments of $600 or more to corporations (other than tax-exempt corporations). (Sec. 9007, as modified by section 10903) Requires tax-exempt charitable hospitals to:
(1) conduct a community health needs assessment every two years;
(2) adopt a written financial assistance policy for patients who require financial assistance for hospital care; and
(3) refrain from taking extraordinary collection actions against a patient until the hospital has made reasonable efforts to determine whether the patient is eligible for financial assistance. Imposes a penalty tax on hospitals who fail to comply with the requirements of this Act. Requires the Secretary of the Treasury to report to Congress on information with respect to private tax-exempt, taxable, and government-owned hospitals regarding levels of charity care provided, bad debt expenses, unreimbursed costs, and costs for community benefit activities.
Imposes an annual fee on the branded prescription drug sales exceeding $5 million of manufacturers and importers of such drugs beginning in 2010. Requires the HHS, VA, and DOD Secretaries to report to the Secretary of the Treasury on the total branded prescription drug sales within government programs within their departments. (Sec. 9009, as modified by section 10904) Imposes an annual fee on the gross sales receipts exceeding $5 million of manufacturers and importers of certain medical devices beginning in 2011. (Sec. 9010, as modified by section 10905) Imposes on any entity that provides health insurance for any United States health risk an annual fee beginning in 2011. Exempts entities whose net premiums written are not more than $25 million. Requires all entities subject to such fee to report to the Secretary of the Treasury on their net written premiums and imposes a penalty for failure to report.
Requires the VA Secretary to study and report to Congress by December 31, 2012, on the effect of fees assessed by this Act on the cost of medical care provided to veterans and on veterans' access to medical devices and branded prescription drugs.
Eliminates the tax deduction for expenses for determining the subsidy for employers who maintain prescription drug plans for Medicare Part D eligible retirees.
Increases the adjusted gross income threshold for claiming the itemized deduction for medical expenses from 7.5% to 10% beginning after 2012. Retains the 7.5% threshold through 2016 for individual taxpayers who have attained age 65 before the close of an applicable taxable year.
Imposes a limitation after December 31, 2012, of $500,000 on the deductibility of remuneration paid to officers, directors, employees, and service providers of health insurance issuers who derive at least 25% of their gross premiums from providing health insurance coverage that meets the minimum essential coverage requirements established by this Act. (Sec. 9015, as modified by section 10906) Increases after December 31, 2012, the hospital insurance tax rate by .9% for individual taxpayers earning over $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing joint tax returns).
Requires Blue Cross or Blue Shield organizations or other nonprofit organizations that provide health insurance to reimburse at least 85% of the cost of clinical services provided to their enrollees to be eligible for special tax benefits currently provided to such organizations. Subtitle B: Other Provisions -
Excludes from gross income the value of certain health benefits provided to members of Indian tribes, including:
(1) health services or benefits provided or purchased by IHS;
(2) medical care provided by an Indian tribe or tribal organization to a member of an Indian tribe;
(3) accident or health plan coverage provided by an Indian tribe or tribal organization for medical care to a member of an Indian tribe and dependents; and
(4) any other medical care provided by an Indian tribe that supplements, replaces, or substitutes for federal programs.
Establishes a new employee benefit cafeteria plan to be known as a Simple Cafeteria Plan, defined as a plan that:
(1) is established and maintained by an employer with an average of 100 or fewer employees during a two-year period;
(2) requires employers to make contributions or match employee contributions to the plan; and
(3) requires participating employees to have at least 1,000 hours of service for the preceding plan year; and
(4) allows such employees to elect any benefit available under the plan.
Allows a 50% tax credit for investment in any qualifying therapeutic discovery project, defined as a project that is designed to:
(1) treat or prevent diseases by conducting pre-clinical activities, clinical trials, and clinical studies, or carrying out research projects to approve new drugs or other biologic products;
(2) diagnose diseases or conditions to determine molecular factors related to diseases or conditions; or
(3) develop a product, process, or technology to further the delivery or administration of therapeutics. Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to award grants for 50% of the investment in 2009 or 2010 in such a project, in lieu of the tax credit. Title X: Strengthening Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans - Subtitle A: Provisions Relating to Title I -
Revises provisions of or related to Subtitles A, B, and C of Title I of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions).
Revises provisions of or related to Subtitle D of Title I of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions). Makes changes to the False Claims Act related to the public disclosure bar on filing civil claims.
Revises provisions of or related to Subtitles E, F, and G of Title I of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions).
Requires an offering employer to provide free choice vouchers to each qualified employee. Defines "offering employer" to mean any employer who offers minimum essential coverage to its employees consisting of coverage through an eligible employer-sponsored plan and who pays any portion of the costs of such plan. Defines "qualified employee" as an employee whose required contribution for such coverage and household income fall within a specified range. Requires:
(1) a Health Insurance Exchange to credit the amount of any free choice voucher to the monthly premium of any qualified health plan in which the employee is enrolled; and
(2) the offering employer to pay any amounts so credited to the Exchange. Excludes the amount of any free choice voucher from the gross income of the employee. Permits a deduction by employers for such costs.
Amends the SSA to require the HHS Secretary to seek input to determine if there could be greater uniformity in financial and administrative health care activities and items. Requires the Secretary to:
(1) task the ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee to convene a meeting to receive input regarding and recommend revisions to the crosswalk between the Ninth and Tenth Revisions of the International Classification of Diseases; and
(2) make appropriate revisions to such crosswalk.Subtitle B: Provisions Relating to Title II - Part I: Medicaid and CHIP -
Revises provisions of Subtitles A through L of Title II of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions). Amends SSA title XIX (Medicaid) to set the FMAP for the state of Nebraska, with respect to all or any portion of a fiscal year that begins on or after January 1, 2017, at 100% (thus requiring the federal government to pay 100% of the cost of covering newly-eligible individuals in Nebraska). Directs the Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on whether the development, recognition, or implementation of any specified health care quality guideline or other standards would result in the establishment of a new cause of action or claim.
Creates a State Balancing Incentive Payments Program to increase the FMAP for states which offer home and community-based services as a long-term care alternative to nursing homes.
Amends SSA title XXI (CHIP) to make appropriations for CHIP through FY2015 and revise other CHIP-related requirements. Part II: Support for Pregnant and Parenting Teens and Women -
Requires the Secretary to establish a Pregnancy Assistance Fund for grants to states to assist pregnant and parenting teens and women.
Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2019. Part III: Indian Health Care Improvement -
Enacts into law the Indian Health Care Improvement Reauthorization and Extension Act of 2009 (S. 1790), as reported by the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate in December 2009. Amends the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, as amended by the Indian Health Care Improvement Reauthorization and Extension Act of 2009, to make an exception to the requirement that a national Community Health Aide Program exclude dental health aide therapist services. Declares that the exclusion of dental health aide therapist services from services covered under the national program shall not apply where an Indian tribe or tribal organization, located in a state (other than Alaska) in which state law authorizes the use of dental health aide therapist services or midlevel dental health provider services, elects to supply such services in accordance with state law. Subtitle C: Provisions Relating to Title III -
Revises provisions of Subtitles A through G of Title III of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions).
Amends SSA title XVIII (Medicare) to deem eligible for Medicare coverage certain individuals exposed to environmental health hazards. Directs the Secretary to establish a pilot program for care of certain individuals residing in emergency declaration areas. Amends SSA title XX (Block Grants to States for Social Services) to direct the Secretary to establish a program for early detection of certain medical conditions related to environmental health hazards. Makes appropriations for FY2012-FY2019.
(1) on the area wage index for hospitals in frontier states;
(2) on the area wage adjustment factor for hospital outpatient department services in frontier states; and
(3) for practice expense index for services furnished in frontier states.
Revises the SNF prospective payment system to delay specified changes until FY2011.
Directs the Secretary to conduct separate pilot programs, for specified kinds of hospitals and hospice programs, to test the implementation of a value-based purchasing program for payments to the provider.
Authorizes an additional incentive payment under the physician quality reporting system in 2011 through 2014 to eligible professionals who report quality measures to CMMS via a qualified Maintenance of Certification program. Eliminates the MedicareAdvantage Regional Plan Stabilization Fund.
Requires Medicare part D prescription drug plans to include a comprehensive review of medications as part of their medication therapy management programs. Requires automatic quarterly enrollment of qualified beneficiaries, with an allowance for them to opt out.
Requires the Secretary to develop a methodology to measure health plan value.
Directs the Secretary to develop a plan to modernize CMMS computer and data systems.
Requires the Secretary to:
(1) develop a Physician Compare Internet website with information on physicians enrolled in the Medicare program and other eligible professionals who participate in the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative; and
(2) implement a plan to make information on physician performance public through Physician Compare, particularly quality and patient experience measures. Authorizes the Secretary to provide financial incentives to Medicare beneficiaries furnished services by high quality physicians.
Directs the Secretary to make available to qualified entities standardized extracts of Medicare claims data for the evaluation of the performance of service providers and suppliers.
Amends the Public Health Service Act to authorize the Secretary to award grants to eligible entities to support community-based collaborative care networks for low-income populations.
Transfers the Office of Minority Health to the Office of the Secretary. Authorizes appropriations for FY2011-FY2016. Establishes individual offices of minority health within HHS. Redesignates the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities in the National Institutes of Health as the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
Directs the Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on the impact on Medicare beneficiary access to high-quality dialysis services of including specified oral drugs furnished to them for the treatment of end state renal disease in the related bundled prospective payment system. Subtitle D: Provisions Relating to Title IV -
Revises provisions of or related to Subtitles A, B, C, D, and E of Title IV of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions).
Catalyst to Better Diabetes Care Act of 2009 - Requires the Secretary to prepare biennially a national diabetes report card and, to the extent possible, one for each state. Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to:
(1) promote the education and training of physicians on the importance of birth and death certificate data and on how to properly complete these documents;
(2) encourage state adoption of the latest standard revisions of birth and death certificates; and
(3) work with states to reengineer their vital statistics systems in order to provide cost-effective, timely, and accurate vital systems data. Allows the Secretary to promote improvements to the collection of diabetes mortality data. Directs the Secretary to conduct a study of the impact of diabetes on the practice of medicine in the United States and the level of diabetes medical education that should be required prior to licensure, board certification, and board recertification.
Requires the Secretary to award grants to eligible employers to provide their employees with access to comprehensive workplace wellness programs.
Cures Acceleration Network Act of 2009 - Amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary, acting through the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to implement the Cures Acceleration Network under which grants and contracts will be awarded to accelerate the development of high need cures. Defines "high need cure" as a drug, biological product, or device:
(1) that is a priority to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or treat harm from any disease or condition; and
(2) for which the incentives of the commercial market are unlikely to result in its adequate or timely development. Establishes a Cures Acceleration Network Review Board.
Establishing a Network of Health-Advancing National Centers of Excellence for Depression Act of 2009 or the ENHANCED Act of 2009 - Requires the Secretary, acting through the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to:
(1) award grants to establish national centers of excellence for depression; and
(2) designate one such center as a coordinating center. Requires the coordinating center to establish and maintain a national, publicly available database to improve prevention programs, evidence-based interventions, and disease management programs for depressive disorders using data collected from the national centers.
Congenital Heart Futures Act - Authorizes the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to:
(1) enhance and expand infrastructure to track the epidemiology of congenital heart disease and to organize such information into the National Congenital Heart Disease Surveillance System; or
(2) award a grant to an eligible entity to undertake such activities. Authorizes the Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to expand, intensify, and coordinate research and related Institute activities on congenital heart disease.
Reauthorizes appropriations for grants for public access defibrillation programs. Requires an information clearinghouse to increase public access to defibrillation in schools established under such program to be administered by an organization that has substantial expertise in pediatric education, pediatric medicine, and electrophysiology and sudden death.
Young Women's Breast Health Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act of 2009 or the EARLY Act - Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to conduct:
(1) a national education campaign to increase awareness of young women's knowledge regarding breast health and breast cancer;
(2) an education campaign among physicians and other health care professionals to increase awareness of breast health of young women; and
(3) prevention research on breast cancer in younger women. Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of NIH, to conduct research to develop and validate new screening tests and methods for prevention and early detection of breast cancer in young women. Directs the Secretary to award grants for the provision of health information to young women diagnosed with breast cancer and pre-neoplastic breast diseases. Subtitle E: Provisions Relating to Title V -
Revises provisions of or related to Title V of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions). Requires the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to establish a national diabetes prevention program targeted at adults at high risk for diabetes. Directs the Secretary to develop a Medicare prospective payment system for payment for services furnished by federally qualified health centers. Requires the Secretary, acting through the Administrator of the HRSA, to establish a grant program to assist accredited schools of allopathic or osteopathic medicine in:
(1) recruiting students most likely to practice medicine in underserved rural communities;
(2) providing rural-focused training and experience; and
(3) increasing the number of recent allopathic and osteopathic medical school graduates who practice in underserved rural communities. Directs the Secretary, acting through the Administrator of HRSA, to award grants or enter into contracts with eligible entities to provide training to graduate medical residents in preventive medicine specialties. Reauthorizes appropriations for public health workforce activities. Revises provisions related to fulfillment of service obligations under the National Health Service Corps related to half-time clinical practice and teaching.
Authorizes appropriations to HHS for debt service on, or direct construction or renovation of, a health care facility that provides research, inpatient tertiary care, or outpatient clinical services and that meets certain requirements, including that it is critical for the provision of greater access to health care within the state.
Establishes a Community Health Center Fund to provide for expanded and sustained national investment in community health centers. Authorizes appropriations to such Fund.
Requires the Secretary, acting through the Administrator of HRSA, to establish a demonstration project to provide access to comprehensive health care services to the uninsured at reduced fees. Subtitle F: Provisions Relating to Title VI -
Revises provisions of Subtitles A through E of Title IV of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions).
Directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to amend the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to provide two-level, three-level, and four-level increases in the offense level for any defendant convicted of a federal health care offense relating to a Government health care program of a loss between $1 million and $7 million, between $7 million and $20 million, and at least $20 million, respectively. Provides that a person need not have actual knowledge of the prohibition against health care fraud nor specific intent to violate it in order to commit health care fraud. Expands the scope of violations constituting a federal health care offense. Amends the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act to authorize the Attorney General to require access to an institution by subpoena to investigate conditions depriving residents of specified constitutional or federal rights.
Authorizes the Secretary to award demonstration grants to states for the development, implementation, and evaluation of alternatives to current tort litigation for resolving disputes over injuries allegedly caused by health care providers or health care organizations.
Amends the Public Health Service Act to extend Medical malpractice coverage to free clinics by deeming their officers, employees, board members, and contractors to be employees of the Public Health Service.
Amends the Federal, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide that, if the proposed labeling of a drug that is the subject of an application for approval as a new drug differs from the listed drug due to labeling revision, the drug that is the subject of such application shall be eligible for approval and shall not be considered misbranded if certain requirements are met. Subtitle G: Provisions Relating to Title VIII -
Revises provisions of or related to Title VIII of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions). Subtitle H: Provisions Relating to Title IX:
Revises provisions of or related to Title IX of this Act (as reflected in the summary of those provisions).
Amends the Internal Revenue Code to impose a 10% excise tax on any amount paid for indoor tanning services on or after July 1, 2010. Exempts phototherapy services performed by a licensed medical professional from the definition of "indoor tanning services."
Excludes from gross income any payments under the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program and any other state loan repayment or forgiveness programs intended to increase the availability of health care services in underserved or health professional shortage areas.
Increases from $10,000 to $13,170 the dollar limitation on:
(1) the tax credit for adoption expenses; and
(2) the tax exclusion for employer-provided adoption assistance. Allows an inflation adjustment to such limitation after 2010. Makes such credit refundable. Extends through 2011 the general terminating date of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 with respect to such credit and exclusion.
March 23, 2010
The Political Compass revisted
|[Posted by kris]|
One thing about the health care debate is that all of the people who were unbearably annoying about the Presidential election are at it again. Ugh. I was talking about it with some friends and we decided that most people are just ignorant about the whole thing. A friend said it best when she wrote:
I think what is irking me the most is that so many people are for this bill, solely because they voted for Obama and they are anti-republican. Well fine, but read up on it before you go all pro-Obamacare. How is it really going to affect you as an individual or family. I think this whole thing is more about keeping this vicious political divide than it is about creating a great universal health care plan. I may have voted for Obama, and I may not agree with most conservative views. But to me this seems like too much of a "democrats sticking it to the republicans" than something beneficial for the American people.
We got to talking about agreed that most people don't even have a clear idea of what party best represents their views and took the Political Compass Test. We've taken tests like this before here, but it's always enlightening to again see where you stand and if your views have changed over time. I see that mine really haven't. I'm still stuck in my lonely lower right quadrant along with Milton Friedman.
Your political compass
Economic Left/Right: 1.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.95
Feel free to take the test and post your own results in the comments. Maybe you'll surprise yourself!
March 17, 2010
Is this racism?
|[Posted by kris]|
Years ago, I was in The Limited with my friend Molly. She bought a couple of items and the checkout girl asked her if anyone had helped her. Poor Molly proceeded to try to give a detailed explanation of what her helper was wearing but the checkout girl still didn't know who she meant. Meanwhile, I was laughing hysterically (on the inside) because Molly simply refused to mention that the girl who helped her was black.
I was reminded of this incident by a story in The Consumerist about a black man who noticed that his Pizza Hut receipt referred to him as "BIGBLACK". The man says:
To be an African-American male and have that type of injustice done to you, especially by a Caucasian, on Martin Luther King holiday, it just threw me so hard.
So is this racist or rude or just completely innocent? "BIGBLACK" could easily refer to a big man in a black shirt. It could also be a kinda rude description like "FATCHICK" or "BIGNOSE". But then again, not really. I mean, we can all probably agree that those are both negative descriptions, but why is "BLACK" something negative rather than something descriptive? It's interesting, but also kind of sad, that a big black man has a knee jerk reaction of racism when he's described as a big black man. Why does he, and my friend Molly, think that "black" equals bad?
I don't really have an answer or even a take on this - I'm just curious about the reaction to it.
March 15, 2010
Giving 'Em the Brackets - 2010 Style
|[Posted by kris]|
Join our 2010 NCAA Basketball Pool. Here are the details:
Group ID#: 105989
See if you can buck our group's general bias towards Kansas and the Big Ten. Thrill to the challenge of beating me for my traditional last place. Make a bracket based entirely on what team's mascot would win!
March 10, 2010
Booting up a Storm at ESPN
|[Posted by kris]|
I applaud ESPN for having an ombudsman and for the most part I enjoy their columns on ESPN.com. I thought Le Anne Schreiber in particular did an excellent job during her tenure. I haven't enjoyed the current ombudsman, Don Ohlmeyer, as much, but for the most part I thought he did an okay job. Until today. Ohlmeyer's latest column addresses Tony Kornheiser's two week suspension for disparaging comments he made about fellow ESPNer Hannah Storm.
After reviewing reader mail on the situation, Ohlmeyer says:
In terms of attire, all ESPN commentators are supposed to select their wardrobes with the approval of producers and consultants. The byword of corporate guidance is "appropriateness," but a large number of the letters on the Kornheiser suspension questioned just that -- the appropriateness of Storm's clothing choices.
Storm is an excellent sports broadcaster -- knowledgeable, articulate, likeable and entertaining. Her breezy, relaxed delivery works particularly well on morning "SportsCenters." She's had an exemplary career, but if critiques in this mailbag reflect the audience at large, her choices for attire are not helping either Storm or the network. If anything distracts the audience from interesting content professionally presented, ESPN should take notice.
So basically, Ohlmeyer is blaming the victim. He's trying to make a claim that somehow her wardrobe was so inappropriate as to be legitimately worthy of Kornheiser's comments. Here's what she wore:
I mean, I don't love it, but could anyone reasonably claim that it's inappropriate for a sports program anchor? Is the sight of her bare knees really more distracting to the audience than this:
Of course not. Remember that the first "E" in ESPN stands for "entertainment". We're talking about sports reporting. These people aren't CEOs, lawyers or international diplomats. Second, if you think ESPN doesn't pre-approve their wardrobe, you're crazy.
I feel like Ohlmeyer is making the old school sexist argument that a woman deserves what she gets if she dresses like "that". Or maybe he's making an ageist argument where women "of a certain age" should be matronly. I don't know what it is, but I certainly expect more from an ombudsman than an excuses for his cronies and double standards.
March 09, 2010
Lenny Bruce is not afraid
|[Posted by kris]|
My regular morning DJs were talking about earthquakes this morning. They seemed relieved to hear that experts are reassuring the public that this cluster of quakes is just a coincidence and not the end of the world.
But then, one of the DJs did point out that those famed soothsayers R.E.M. start out "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by singing:
That's great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, an aeroplane
What about snakes, you say? Well, down in Sydney, they're calling this the "week of the snake bite" after a slew of incidents. Spooky.
So are we doomed? Are you afraid?
March 08, 2010
Reagan on the $50?
|[Posted by kris]|
So apparently there's a movement afoot to put Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Reagan, but wouldn't the Gipper decry such wasteful spending?
What's interesting about the debate isn't the overheated reaction of partisans on the left or the right or the 8,000+ member Facebook group named "JUST SAY NO" TO RONALD REAGAN ON A $50 BILL OR ANY CURRENCY - EVER!". (You can tell they really mean it because it's in all caps.) No, what's interesting to me is the renewed interest in Ulysses S. Grant, who is currently on the bill. Grant was a war hero, but also a heavy drinker. He championed early civil rights for blacks, but was an anti-semite. His Presidency was full of scandals, but he also ended up writing wildly praised memoirs at the end of his life. He was a complicated man (and probably no one understood him but his woman), but he lived large. In short, he kind of seems like exactly the kind of guy that probably really would have a wad of $50s in his wallet. A desire to honor Reagan shouldn't be done at Grant's expense.
In fact, if we want to honor Reagan, let's do so by not spending money on stupid things.
March 04, 2010
Politicians and social media
|[Posted by ]|
I was reading an article about whether or not politicians should use social media that says:
There are many reason why politicians need to do what Mitch Joel calls “be the media”.
* traditional media can’t or won’t always cover a candidate
* politicians can’t control how traditional media will present them
* politicians don’t need digital channels to create difficult situations (like here and here)
And the payoff…
* increasingly, people are getting their information online — specifically from Google (and other search engines)
I get so frustrated when I read things like this. Campaign managers only see the Internet as another way to get things from voters. At first, they only saw the Internet as another way to fund raise. Now, it's just another marketing channel.
I agree that smart candidates should try to bypass the traditional media, but to view social media, and the Internet by extension, as just another audience is not only short-sighted, but also shows a lack of respect for a candidate's voters and/or constituents.
Social media isn't just media. Candidates ignore the "social" part of it. A candidate who uses Twitter or Facebook or some other social media outlet to simply push out messages is going to get ignored pretty fast. It's like a guy who goes to a party and just talks about himself. Pretty soon he's going to be in alone in a corner.
Likewise, using social media isn't just about putting up a page and letting people go at it (ahem, The White House). A good host doesn't let their party descend into a free-for-all. You've gotta encourage and lead the conversation for anyone to get anything out of it. Otherwise, as The White House page shows, it's a useless and unpleasant situation for everyone.
I know that politicians and their advisors just want to repeat their carefully prepared talking points. But that's not what we want from social media. We want responses. We want a dialogue. We want to be social with the politicians we've chosen to have online relationships with, not just each other. Marketing, whether it's for a political candidate or a bar of soap, isn't just sending messages. It's about listening and responding and having real conversations sometimes. Until candidates understand that they're only going to realize a fraction of the potential of the new media landscape.
March 01, 2010
How the Russians are saving the Olympics
|[Posted by ]|
Even with NBC's horrible coverage, I still love the Olympics. I didn't get that wrapped up in them this time, but I did enjoy the hockey, Kim Yu-Na, Shaun White and biathlon. Biathlon. Really! It doesn't seem like the skiing part matters that much, but the shooting was incredibly tense and actually exciting. Who knew?
Anyway, perhaps the most significant thing to come out of the Vancouver Games was the reestablishment of Russia as our natural enemy. At first it was just the obnoxiousness of Evgeni Plushenko, his stupid hair and his "platinum" medal. But now, Russia is forcing its sports officials to resign and shipping them off to Siberia. Okay, maybe I made that last part up.
In the scheme of sports, this is awesome. America needs an enemy in the Olympics. We don't want to feel bad chanting "USA! USA!" after our athletes beat some poor Swede whose Mom just died of cancer and had to learn to ski on slats of wood that his Father formed from the very walls of his house because they were too poor and had to walk uphill both ways to practice every day. If we're going to rub it in someone's face, who better than a bunch of Commie bastards?
The Canadians, for all their talk of "owning the podium" are still Canadians. We can't take America, Jr. seriously. When they talk big, we simply pat them on their toques. The Chinese probably could threaten us, but they want to be loved. They want to impress us with their progress. The Russians, on the other hand, don't give a damn about that. They want to bury us. And god bless 'em for it. Bring on Sochi!
A Wisconsin Olympiad
|[Posted by ]|
After each Olympics, I find myself trying to imagine what a Wisconsin Olympics would be like. What are the myths and iconic images that we would want to show the rest of the world? What is our giant inflatable beaver?
While the Vancouver Olympics ceremonies focused on Canada as a whole, typically, American Olympics are more about the region they're held in, so Atlanta had pickup trucks & Salt Lake City had the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. For Wisconsin, here are a few things I think we'd show the world:
1. Instead of giant inflatable beavers, we'd either have giant inflatable cows in the Opening or Closing Ceremony or perhaps just a Cow Parade in the host city.
2. Wherever the Wisconsin Olympics were held, you can rest assured that Bucky Badger and the UW Marching Band would be a part of it. I suspect that you'd hear "On Wisconsin" almost as often as we heard "Oh Canada" the last two weeks, not to mention the Bud Song. I think people would be singing "When you say WIS-CON-SIN, you've said it all" in their sleep.
3. It's easy to imagine the Opening Ceremonies beginning with an Ojibwe ritual.
4. Likewise, I'd expect to see a fanciful interpretation of fur traders taking birch bark canoes down the Fox River, portaging at Portage and traveling down the Wisconsin from there. Perhaps Alice Cooper would be available to explain the history to the worldwide audience.
5. Obviously, beer, cheese & brats have to be a part of the event. My thought would be to stage a light-hearted Closing Ceremony like Vancouver with a tailgate party theme. We could get a bunch of trucks (maybe Atlanta still has some we can borrow), grills, beer pong tables and baggo and show the world a good time.
6. Like Canada, Wisconsin has its share of lumberjacks and with the World Lumberjack Championships here it's only natural to include some logrolling.
7. For music, I guess we'd have to include the BoDeans since I think every Wisconsinite is required by law to go to at least one of their shows. Our cheesy American Idol would be Danny Gokey. Our indie perfomer would be Bon Iver. We could have Liberace impersonators and polka bands. It'd be fantastic, even before we got to the obligatory performance of Steve Miller's "Swingtown" ("O" for the Olympics this time, minus the swearing).
8. Our Olympic flag bearers could be giants of Wisconsin sports like Bart Starr, Hank Aaron, Robin Yount, Bo Ryan, Dick Trickle (yeah, I said it), Ron Dayne and Bob Uecker. Oh, Brett Favre, if you weren't such an ass, you'd be on this list...
9. If Wisconsin held the Winter Olympics (oh, if only we still had the Gogebic mountains) I'd think the torch would be lit by either Dan Jansen or Eric Heiden. In the summer, it's harder, but maybe someone like Suzy Favor Hamilton would fit the bill?
10. Finally, the most delightful part of the Olympics would be how certain athletes and fans would be pleasantly surprised to find a slice of home here. Swiss skiers could fill up on rosti in New Glarus, while German bobsledders would feel right at home in Milwaukee. A Polish biathlete would be the huge crowd favorite in Stevens Point and Norwegians would be welcomed with a wide variety of Ole and Lena jokes. Wisconsin: You're Among Friends.
But sadly, our lack of mountains, big cities and the IOC's hatred of America make this all an impossible dream, but a fun dream nonetheless.