Cruz Says Immigration Plan Would Affect Workers' Benefits Under Health Law; Senate Panel Hears Concerns About Medicare Audits

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, criticizes the pending immigration bill and health law while Medicare observation care and audits are hot topics during a Senate Finance Committee hearing. Also in the news, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, talks about hospital CEO pay. In addition, he and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., push to open the Medicare claims payment database.

 The Hill: Cruz: Immigration Bill, ObamaCare Create 'Enormous Incentive' To Hire Immigrants
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argued Tuesday that because the comprehensive immigration reform bill prohibits immigrant workers from getting ObamaCare benefits, employers will fire U.S. workers and replace them with immigrants. Cruz said he wanted to offer an amendment to address the "most egregious aspect" of the immigration bill (Cox, 6/25).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Hospital Officials Complain About Medicare Efforts On Observation Care
Recovery Audit Contractors – or RACs – uncover and collect improper payments made to hospitals, physicians, clinics and other providers. In 2011 the audits resulted in the return of nearly a half a billion dollars to the Medicare Trust Fund. "We need to build on this success, but we can't overburden legitimate providers who play by the rules,' Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Tuesday. "We need balance" (Carey, 6/26).

CQ HealthBeat: Senators Sympathetic To Complaints That Medicare Audits Are Too Burdensome
Senate Finance Committee members from both sides of the aisle expressed concern Tuesday that a Medicare program that audits provider reimbursement claims creates unreasonable administrative burdens on hospitals. But Chairman Max Baucus stopped short of saying after the hearing that he'll push legislation to address problems with the Recovery Audit Contractor program (Reichard, 6/25).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Grassley: Who Approved These Hospital CEO Bonuses?
Sen. Charles Grassley, a longtime member of the Senate Finance Committee and frequent critic of nonprofit hospitals, wants to know whose idea it was to pay hospital CEOs annual bonuses surpassing a million dollars in some cases (Hancock, 6/25).

CQ HealthBeat: Wyden Says Opening Up Medicare Data Will Unleash Market Force
Opening up Medicare's claims payment database would have a "transformative" effect on the U.S. health care economy, Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden told a Washington, D.C., forum Tuesday. Wyden and Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa introduced a bill (S 1180) on June 18 that would require the Health and Human Services secretary to make available a searchable Medicare payment database that the public could access at no cost (Reichard, 6/25).

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