Weekend update / miscellany

  • CMS has released its final Fiscal Year 2008 rules on changes to Medicare’s inpatient propective pricing system (IPPS) and its physician reimbursement system. The changes are largely driven by statute and the hospital and physician trade associations have expressed strong opposition to the changes, several of which may be overridden through the FY 2008 appropriations process and/or the SCHIP reauthorization process. Today’s NY Times features an article about hospital earmarks found in the House State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization bill. The article includes the following quote from Rep. Pete Stark (D CA): “Under Medicare, he added, ‘you are basically setting prices, and the system is clumsy.’” The Newark Star Ledger headlined an article about an interesting feature of the Medicare IPPS rule — its new Medicare exclusion for six hospital created medical problems.
  • News reports indicate that Senate Finance Committee Charles Grassley (R IA) is urging a pre-conference committee talks with the House this month about resolving the differences between the House and Senate SCHIP reauthorization bills. According to the National Journal, Sen. Trent Lott (R MS) predicted that ” If [the conference report] goes one iota beyond what was in this bill, we will be able to sustain the veto,” he said. Former acting CMS Administrator Leslie Norwalk is predicting that the President and Congress will compromise by agreeing on a shorter extension of SCHIP, e.g., two years as opposed to five years, which would punt the issue to the next Administration.