The Obama administration could support at least two potentially significant changes to the healthcare reform law. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in her first congressional testimony on the law enacted 10 months earlier, said she would support Sen. Michael Bennet's (D-Colo.) planned legislation to require reviews of the ability of new agencies to achieve cost savings.
Sebelius backs agency reviews, IPAB waivers
Bennet's planned bill, revealed at a Thursday hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, would amend the law to require reviews of all new agencies and other entities it has created and will create to determine if they result in a net reduction in healthcare spending. The proposed measure would eliminate those new government entities that do not produce savings, Bennet said.
“This would be a way of keeping faith with the American people,” Bennet said. “So when we say we're going to save money, they know we mean it.”
Another change to the law Sebelius said she would consider would exempt rural critical-access hospitals from cuts by the Independent Payment Advisory Board for several years. The change, requested by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), was needed because those cuts, which will begin by 2015, could endanger the viability of those hospitals. The law exempted larger hospitals from possible IPAB cuts until 2020.
“It's important that the critical access that they provide continue to be offered,” Sebelius said.
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