Tag Archives: Congress

PACE legislation to expand in-home care passes Congress

Photo by My Future via Flickr

Photo by My Future via Flickr

The House of Representatives on Oct. 21 passed legislation aimed at reducing costs and strengthening comprehensive, coordinated health care and related long-term services for some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens. It now heads to the President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

The Providing Programs of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly Act (PACE) Innovation Act (S 1362) will expand the current PACE program by allowing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to conduct demonstration projects, using the PACE Model of Care, to serve individuals with disabilities an integrated, community-based setting that supports independence and enhances quality of life. It will also work to improve health outcomes and reduce costs for seniors who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Continue reading

Study attempts policy point by detailing cancer rates by congressional district

Vintage Postcard Capitol, "Washington D. C. " via photopin (license)The East Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, seen here in a vintage post card.

Vintage Postcard Capitol, “Washington D. C. “ via photopin (license)The East Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, seen here in a vintage post card.

A lot has been said lately about the geography of health, with maps citing longevity by ZIP code, and other health risks such as smoking or obesity broken down by states, counties and other typical boundaries. But rarely do you see it cancer mapped by congressional district.

It’s a project the American Cancer Society recently took on. The research and advocacy group recently released a report looking at cancer rates across the United States by congressional boundaries, found higher rates in districts in the South and Appalachia, while lower rates were in Mountain states. Why further break it down by 435 lawmakers’ districts? Continue reading

Congressional update at GSA touches on upcoming stories

What’s really happening with aging policy in Washington? At last week’s annual Gerontological Society of America Conference in New Orleans, a standing-room-only audience was privy to updates from key Congressional committee staffers.

Erika Salway, policy adviser for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, discussed the committee’s work on issues affecting older adults, including federally qualified health centers, primary care, oral health, mental health and the Older Americans Act. Funding for the OAA is $1.8 billion, which may sound high, but she reminded the audience that its programs serve 10 million seniors every year and funding constitutes less than .06 percent of the federal budget. The OAA funds essential services such as Meals on Wheels, job training, caregiver support, transportation and elder abuse services. It expired in 2011 but continues to receive federal funds under the old legislative formula. Continue reading

Government shutdown doesn’t stop ‘Obamacare’ but may have consequences

Photo by Sean Stayte via flickr.

A brief explanation of why a government shutdown over “Obamacare” won’t shutdown “Obamacare:”

Congress is fighting (among other things) over a continuing resolution, better known as a CR. That’s a short-term spending bill to keep the government running because the bitterly divided Congress hasn’t agreed on its normal series of annual spending bills.

But those appropriations bills – wrapped up in the CR – are for “discretionary” spending. “Discretionary” for Congress doesn’t really mean discretionary the way you and I mean discretionary: It’s not “elective” or “optional” or a trip to Italy once the piggy bank is full. It’s a technical term that wraps in a whole lot of what the government does day in and day out.

But it’s not “mandatory” spending – which includes (most of) Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid – and now the subsidies and other key parts of the Affordable Care Act. It’s not that Congress can’t change mandatory spending – it can and it does. But for our purposes here – it’s separate from discretionary spending and the CR. Continue reading

A quick Obamacare election recap – or ‘precap’

So the election is finally here. What do we know about the fate of “Obamacare?”

As I write this on Sunday, Nov. 4 – not much. But here are the four main  scenarios to think about. When we know the results, we’ll explore more in depth.

Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen (@JoanneKenen) is AHCJ’s health reform topic leader. If you have questions or suggestions for future resources, please send them to joanne@healthjournalism.org.

At this writing, the presidential race is considered very close (with each side predicting that its guy will win.) The conventional wisdom is that the Senate is likely – not certainly, but likely – to remain in Democratic hands. But we’ll look at what would happen if the Republicans pull out a narrow win.

All the scenarios I write about here assume that the House remains Republican – that’s pretty much a given. Should the entire politicoscenti be wrong about that (highly unlikely) and it goes Democratic, that would mean more support for President Barack Obama’s health law, if he’s re-elected, and more obstacles to repeal if Mitt Romney wins. But, I repeat, it’s unlikely.

So read through the other four scenarios – and I put the most interesting and least understood last. Continue reading