Capitol Hill Fights Over Health Law, EHR Doc Payments Continue

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill sound off on the Obama administration's "meaningful use" payments to doctors as the fight over parts of the health law and its oversight and D.C's insurance exchange continue.

Medscape: House GOP Urges Halt To EHR Bonuses
Federal bonuses for "meaningful use" of electronic health records (EHRs) have become a political football, with House Republicans calling for their immediate suspension and health care groups rising to their defense. Last week, four powerful House Republicans told US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a letter that "insufficient standards" for EHR meaningful use have left physicians and other providers with systems that cannot "talk with one another." They urged Sebelius to suspend incentive payments until HHS issues "universal interoperable standards." ... The letter from the GOP congressmen provoked a rebuttal the next day from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a large trade organization for professionals and vendors in that field (Lowes, 10/11).

The Hill: Waxman Protests 'Partisan' GOP Oversight Of Health Law
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) charged Thursday that House Republicans haven't been fair with their investigations into part of President Obama's health care reform law. Waxman, the top Democrat on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, criticized GOP investigations into contracts with public-relations firms to help raise awareness of new benefits stemming form the legislation. Former President George W. Bush also spent millions of dollars on Medicare-related advertising, and House Republicans were silent, Waxman said (Baker, 10/11).

Politico Pro: Johnson Questions D.C. Exchange Rules
A Senate Republican responsible for oversight of the District of Columbia says the city's new exchange format goes beyond the scope of the health law and restricts residents' right to keep their insurance. "The decision to force individuals and small groups into a government-run exchange violates their freedom to negotiate, contract and retain their current health insurance plan," Sen. Ron Johnson, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's D.C. subcommittee, wrote in a letter Thursday to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. The D.C. exchange could prove to be a new battleground in the political fight over the health reform law. The District is pursuing an aggressive model of the health reform law, but frequently finds itself confined by a Congress that controls its pocketbook (Haberkorn, 10/11).

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