What Are Lobbyists Telling Republicans About Health Reform?

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"What Are Lobbyists Telling Republicans About Health Reform?"

Following Tuesday’s midterm elections, both parties have indicated that they wanted to re-visit the Affordable Care Act, but the skeptic in me doesn’t think that they’ll agree on anything beyond the 1099-reporting requirement and even that holds its own difficulties. Assuming of course, that repeal is a non-starter — The Hill’s Mike Lillis reported earlier today that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) reiterated that the effort would go nowhere in the Senate — what other health initiatives will the new Congress consider?

Health care industry and employer lobbyists who, in anticipation of the midterm wave, have shifted their campaign contributions to Republicans this election cycle, may provide some clues to what lawmakers are hearing about the affects of reform and other health priorities. And so what follows is only a partial list of their concerns and demands:

PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY: The industry doesn’t expect Republicans to reopen the doughnut hole, but it does want Congress to “reauthorize the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, which allows companies to pay fees to the Food and Drug Administration to accelerate product reviews.”

LARGE EMPLOYERS: “They don’t want to repeal it,” said Geoff Manville, principal in Mercer’s Washington Resource Group. “But large employers for their part want to amend the law and make changes, largely around provider payments and delivery-system reform.” Big employers “would like to see more aggressive pay-for-performance measures that aim to improve patients’ health results while reducing costs in the Medicare program, he said. “That’s the 800-pound gorilla that drives the entire health-care system.”

INSURERS: “The insurance industry is working to persuade the next Congress to roll back a roughly $70 billion tax on insurance companies that takes effect in 2014, saying it will disproportionately hit small businesses that insure their workers. It also wants lawmakers to allow insurers to widen the rating bands that dictate how much more insurers can charge older customers. Insurers also want to tackle the growth of health costs by enacting a new measure to give robust protections against medical malpractice lawsuits to doctors who follow certain “best practice” guidelines.”

HOSPITALS: The American Hospital Association formally came out “in support of Sen. Cornyn’s bill to repeal reform’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).” “America’s hospitals support the repeal of IPAB because its existence permanently removes Congress from the decision-making process and threatens the long-time, open and important dialogue between hospitals and their elected officials about the needs of local hospitals and how to provide the highest quality care to their patients and communities,” they wrote in a letter.

DOCTORS: “The American Medical Association (AMA) is warning of ‘a catastrophe’ if lawmakers don’t step in to block the 23 percent cut, which is scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, and another 6.5 percent cut that’s due a month later.”

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