The proposed House budget for the rest of the current fiscal year will severely curtail the ability of the federal government to make payments to vendors under various Medicare programs, including Medicare Advantage, the Obama administration says in letter signed by Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
Senate Republicans say through their Policy Committee that the Obama administration is wrong, and that regardless, can be prevented by HHS “unless the Administration wishes to withhold Medicare program benefits to score political points.”
The letter was sent Tuesday by Ms. Sebelius in response to an inquiry by Senator Max Baucus, D-Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Senator Baucus sought the letter in advance of the Wednesday vote on dueling Democratic and Republican proposals dealing with funding the government for the rest of this fiscal year.
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Both the Republican bill–the House bill, H.R. 1, which cuts spending by $61 billion for the remainder of the year–and the Democratic version, which cuts spending by $4 billion, failed to garner enough votes to pass Wednesday.
That sends both sides back to the drawing board.
In a letter signed by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the administration says that, if H.R. 1 would be enacted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would not be able to use continuing resolution funds to administer payments based on any rate calculated on the basis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, “which is to say virtually all rates.”
The letter says that where the PPACA effectively repealed prior payment methodologies and replaced them with new ones, H.R. 1 “would seem to preclude any payments for the items or services at issue.”
For example, the letter says, PPACA replaced the old statutory provisions governing payments to MA organizations with new provisions, including a freeze in payment levels in 2011.