This Week – March 4, 2011

This Week in Washington DC:

  1. Congress Averts Government Shutdown
  2. House Approves Measure Repealing IRS 1099 Provision
  3. ACO Regulation Expected Soon

President Obama Signs Continuing Budget Resolution to Keep Government Running
The House and Senate easily passed a short term government spending measure this week, extending federal discretionary spending beyond the March 4, 2011 deadline by an additional two weeks or through March 18th.  In a win for House Republicans, this bill also cuts existing spending by $4 billion.  President Obama signed the measure into law on Wednesday.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did issue a notice to Medicare contractors saying that Medicare services/payments are considered a “necessary” service of the federal government so contractors were to continue operations if a shutdown actually occurred.

House Sends Tax Reporting Requirement to Senate
On Thursday the House voted 314-112 in favor of eliminating the IRS Form 1099 provision, which requires all businesses — including medical practices — to submit an IRS 1099 Form for payments of $600 or more to any vendor.  The requirement is scheduled to take effect in 2012.  While most in Congress believe the measure should be repealed, paying for the $19 billion loss in federal revenue has been controversial.  The House passed the repeal offsetting the cost by reducing the expected revenue loss in giving low-income households too high a tax subsidy for buying health insurance beginning 2014.  The offset raises the income level threshold by which Congress is allowed to recapture these overpayments.  This change raises an estimated $25 billion over 10 years.  The bill now heads to the Senate where the offset is likely to again cause friction during the debate.

ACG will update membership as the bill moves through the Senate.

CMS Expects to Release ACO Regulation in Upcoming Weeks
The Obama Administration announced on Thursday that the much anticipated regulation creating accountable care organizations (ACOs) will not be released this week but could be out soon.  The proposed regulation is currently under review in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is among the last steps before a regulation is issued.

The ACO regulation is pursuant to a provision in the health reform law requiring CMS to establish a “shared savings program” that gives providers financial incentives to coordinate care and form patient care organizations.   One of the many questions the College hopes this regulation will answer has also proven difficult to resolve among CMS, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Justice Department: how ACOs would comply with laws preventing kickbacks and anti-competitive behavior.

ACG will alert membership when the regulation is released and will also provide a summary of how an ACO model could impact the GI clinician.

Please stay tuned for further updates.  Please also share and discuss your thoughts with fellow ACG members on the ACG GI Circle. To login and share your comments, visit www.acg-gi-circle.within3.com.  If you have not yet activated your ACG GI Circle account, please email us at acgcirclefeedback@within3.com.

Contact Brad Conway, VP Public Policy, with any questions or for more information.

Brad Conway
bconway@acg.gi.org
301.263.9000