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Weekly Update

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ACEP.org Legislative 911 Network Weekly Update Previous Updates September 15, 2000

September 15, 2000

WEEKLY UPDATE for September 15, 2000

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Patient Protections-the President's Move
Balance Budget Act/Reconciliation
Health Care Safety Net Oversight Act (S. 3035)
National Practitioner Data Bank Public Disclosure Meeting Resistance (H.R. 5122)

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Patient Protections-the President's Move

The first real sign of compromise on health issues sparked as Pres. Clinton, the AMA, and Families USA gathered Thursday at the White House urging Senate Republicans to bring bipartisan support to a revised Norwood-Dingell patient protection bill. The new version addresses Republican concerns on state's rights to implement their own health insurance programs and jurisdiction for litigation against managed care providers. The language permits states to appeal to the Department of Labor for state programs that regulate health insurance and stipulates those lawsuits to be filed in state and federal courts. "Time is running out in Congress and there is no more-important piece of unfinished business," Clinton stated.

Clinton also stated privately to Republican leaders that he would not consider any appropriation bills until an acceptable version of the patients' bill of rights is passed into law. The new Norwood-Dingell bill includes ACEPs emergency services provision!

Balance Budget Act/Reconciliation

The political jockeying over the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) "giveback" preoccupied legislators and the President last week. President Clinton proposed spending $21 billion over five years for hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and health care plans, and other providers. A House Republican draft alternative would allocate $10 billion over five years for hospitals and $3.2 billion for health plans. A compromise bill with funding levels somewhere in between is expected to pass either as a freestanding bill or part of a larger omnibus bill.

ACEP is working for the inclusion of a small change in the to the BBA Medicare law regarding graduate medical education. In the BBA of 1997, Congress capped the number of graduate medical residents per teaching facility. In publishing the implementing rule, HCFA arbitrarily chose August 5th 1997 as the date when the census of Medicare funded medical residents was taken. This date excluded programs that were in the process of applying for accreditation. The legislative change sponsored by ACEP permits several residency training programs including an emergency medicine in Michigan to be considered for funding as if they were included in the original caps. Reps. Camp (R-MI) and Barcia (D-MI) are leading the effort in the House and Sens. Abraham (R- MI) and Levin (D-MI) are sponsoring the measure in the Senate.

Health Care Safety Net Oversight Act (S. 3035)

On September 12th, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the "Health Care Safety Net Oversight Act of 2000," also known as SNOPAC. Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Connie Morella (R-MD) introduced the companion bill in the House. The bill amends the Social Security Act to create an independent, nonpartisan commission to assess the health care needs of the uninsured and to monitor the stability of the nation's health care safety net. The bill for the first time recognizes emergency physicians in the definition of "core safety net provider." The bill is expected to be included in a larger omnibus bill at the end of the session.

National Practitioner Data Bank Public Disclosure Meeting Resistance (H.R. 5122)

The "Patient Protection Act of 2000," sponsored by House Commerce Committee Chairman Tom Bliley (R-VA) which permits public access to the National Practitioner Data Bank met strong opposition from the AMA. "To us, it looks like retribution for our work on the Patients' Bill of Rights," former AMA President Thomas Reardon observed. The bill duplicates similar systems hosted in 28 states, providing information on physicians to citizens. Rep. John Cooksey (R-LA), an ophthalmologist, is leading the charge against the bill. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for September 20th.

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