December 2, 2013

THE WEEK AHEAD

Legislative Focus:  Patents, Firearms, Domestic Energy Production

The House convened at 2:00 p.m. and votes are postponed until 6:30 p.m.

This week the House will consider bills to reauthorize the Undetectable Firearms Act, exempt certain investment advisors from Dodd-Frank requirements and reform patent infringement litigation.

Today the House is expected to consider three bills under suspension, including a bill by Howard Coble (R-NC) to extend the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 for 10 years. This legislation would continue to require that firearms manufacturers include metal components in all guns to ensure detection by security equipment.

On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to take up nine bills under suspension, including H.R. 1095, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Loose Change Act. The bill would require TSA to direct all unclaimed money from security checkpoints to organizations that provide airport lounges to military service members and their families. On Wednesday and Thursday, the House is expected to take up H.R. 1105, the Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act, which would exempt low-risk private equity investment advisors from reporting and disclosure requirements under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The House may also consider H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act. The bill would place limits on the patent infringement discovery process and require patent holders to disclose more detailed information when filing patent infringement legal claims.

The Senate is in recess and will return on December 9, 2013.


KEY HEARINGS & MARKUPS

Education & the Workforce:  The Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee of the House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a series of hearings titled “Keeping College Within Reach.”
Tuesday, December 3 at 10:00 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Building.

The Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Examining Recent Actions by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.”
Wednesday, December 4 at 10:00 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Building.

Energy & Commerce:  The Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “The FEC (Federal Trade Commission) at 100: Where Do We Go From Here?”
Tuesday, December 3 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2123.

The Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Medicare Advantage: What Beneficiaries Should Expect Under the President’s Health Care Plan.”
Wednesday, December 4 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2123.

The Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Evaluating the Role of FERC in a Changing Energy Landscape.”
Thursday, December 5 at 9:30 a.m., Rayburn 2123.

Financial Services:  The Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing titled “Examining Regulatory Relief Proposals for Community Financial Institutions.”
Wednesday, December 4 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2128.

Judiciary Committee:  The Regulatory Reform, Commercial, and Antitrust Law Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Bankruptcy Code and Financial Institution Insolvencies.”
Tuesday, December 3 at 1:00 p.m., Rayburn 2141

Natural Resources:  The House Natural Resources Committee will mark up a number of pending bills, including H.R. 3286, a bill that directs the Secretary of the Treasury to reimburse states that use state funds to operate National Parks during the federal government shutdown, and for other purposes;
Wednesday, December 4 at 10:00 a.m., Longworth 1324

Small Business:  The Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations of the House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing titled “Regulatory Landscape: Burdens on Small Financial Institutions.”
Tuesday, December 3 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2360.

The House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Health Care Law: The Effects of the Business Aggregation Rules on Small Employers.”
Wednesday, December 4 at 1:00 p.m., Rayburn 2360.

The Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access of the House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing titled “Where Are We Now? Examining the Post-Recession Small Business Lending Environment.”
Thursday, December 5 at 10:00 a.m., Rayburn 2360.

Veterans’ Affairs:  The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Adjudicating VA’s Most Complex Disability Claims: Ensuring Quality, Accuracy and Consistency on Complicated Issues.”
Wednesday, December 4 at 3:00 p.m., Cannon 334.



IRS RELEASES FINAL REGULATIONS FOR ACA INSURANCE FEE

  
The Internal Revenue Service recently issued a final rule implementing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance premium fee, which applies to most commercial plans including Medicaid managed care and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at-risk plans. The final rule, released on November 26, affirms that the fee will total $8 billion in 2014 and gradually increase to $14.3 billion by 2018. Because states are required to pay Medicaid health plans actuarially sound rates, the cost of the annual insurer fee on Medicaid plans will be passed on to states. 



ADMINISTRATION DELAYS ONLINE ENROLLMENT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES


The Administration recently announced that online applications for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will be delayed until November 2014. The one-year delay in online enrollment only affects small businesses in states where the federal government is running the SHOP exchange. In these states, small businesses still have the option to sign up for coverage through an agent, broker or insurer that offers certified SHOP plans. Starting in 2014, only small businesses that enroll through the SHOP will be eligible for tax credits to help cover the cost of coverage. For more information, click here



CMS RELEASES GUIDANCE ON MEDICAID, CHIP ENROLLMENT OPTION

 
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a guidance letter to states on a transitional option for enrolling individuals in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To facilitate timely enrollment in these programs in 2014, CMS will permit states to use account transfer flat files transmitted by CMS to states with federally-run exchanges. These flat files do not contain the full electronic account for the individual, but provide sufficient information to identify the individual and indicate Medicaid or CHIP eligibility. This interim option is intended to ensure enrollment can be completed in a timely manner without regard to temporary file transfer system issues at the federal or state level. 



CMS RELEASES GUIDANCE ON QUALITY IMPROVEMENT FOR MEDICAID AND CHIP
 
Last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the fourth letter in a series giving states guidance on designing and implementing integrated care models (ICMs) within Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CMS uses the term ICM to describe initiatives such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), ACO-like models and managed care that utilize delivery and payment reforms to improve the quality of care while reducing costs. The letter acknowledges that while CMS can support Medicaid programs in their efforts to use these models, innovation will be driven at the state and local level. Furthermore, CMS recognizes that it is helpful for state Medicaid programs and CMS to have a common understanding of what it means to measure, monitor and improve the quality of health care in value-based payment models. The letter first describes key components of a state’s quality improvement strategy and then discusses how that framework can help states identify resources and enable CMS to better support a state’s vision for improving health and reducing costs.