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Medicare bills head to House floor

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The House is preparing to debate several Medicare bills on the floor this week.

Two of the more controversial bills that could come up within the next few days include H.R. 160, which would repeal the medical device excise tax included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), and H.R. 1190, which would kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), according to a schedule posted by the office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

PPACA drafters created IPAB in an effort to establish a mechanism for helping Medicare program managers adjust the prices Medicare pays for services such as primary care and various types of specialty care.

Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., is the lead sponsor of H.R. 160, and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., is the lead sponsor of H.R. 1190.

The House is considering both H.R. 160 and H.R. 1190 as bills that face significant opposition, but medical device excise tax repeal has received strong support from some Democrats.

IPAB repeal has also enjoyed some Democratic support. Howard Dean, a former Democratic presidential contender, has argued that IPAB is a “health care rationing body.”

The House is also using a quick “suspension calendar” process to consider some Medicare bills that House leaders regard as noncontroversial.

H.R. 2570, a bill sponsored by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., would require Medicare to set up a value-based insurance design (VBID) demonstration program. Plans included in the program would try to use plan design to encourage enrollees to use more high-value care and less low-value care.

Another bill on the suspension calendar, H.R. 2582, would require Medicare managers to do more to take patients’ health problems and socioeconomic status into account when assigning ratings through the current 5-star rating system.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., would also prohibit the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from kicking a Medicare Advantage plan out of the Medicare Advantage program solely because it received a low star rating. The ban on rating-related expulsions would last until the end of plan year 2018.

See also: How Medicare Advantage might change

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