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CCH Briefing Highlights Employer, Medicare Provisions of Health Care Reform Proposals

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 General News J E 4
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RIVERWOODS, Ill., March 22 CCH has issued a Special Briefing (health.cch.com/pdf/congress-passes-health-reform.pdf) on the various employer and Medicare-related provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the companion Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act in the House. Significant changes to the way employers provide health benefits to their employees - or choose not to provide them - will be in the offing. The legislation also makes major changes to Medicare and Medicaid, according to CCH, part of Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, a leading provider of research information and software solutions for legal, business compliance and human resources professionals (hr.cch.com). The stage is now set for Senate concurrence of budgetary changes in the law through a simple majority vote and signing by the president to wind up the long legislative path to health care reform.

The legislation includes a requirement that individuals be covered, and employers would be required to offer coverage that meets certain minimum standards or else contribute a dollar amount per employee - a "play or pay" approach. Credits will ease the financial burden on low-income individuals and small businesses.

Employers will also see measures aimed at making high-value medical plans more expensive through a tax on insurers, limitations on health savings accounts, reimbursement of health expenses under flexible spending arrangements and health reimbursement accounts.

"The legislation will affect every business in the country, whether it's currently providing coverage to its employees or not - and especially if it's not," said Stephen Huth, Managing Editor, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. Huth is a regular contributor to the blog, Health Reform Talk. He tracks the employer-provided health coverage business on a daily basis and regularly answers questions on health benefits issues.

Medicare, Medicaid Affected

While the public debate on health care reform often has centered on the existing private health insurance market, much of the legislation is devoted to changes in Medicare and Medicaid.

"Medicare and Medicaid is seen as an area where savings can be - must be - made," said Jay Nawrocki, Senior Medicare Analyst with Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. "The aim is to control costs of the programs themselves but also introduce efficient medical practices that will become the norm and will lower costs of the entire health care system."

Changes include reducing payments to Medicare Advantage providers, eliminating the "donut hole" in Part D drug coverage, incentives and procedures to reduce readmissions to hospitals and changes in reimbursement formulas to encourage greater use of primary care physicians, less use of specialists.

"It's likely that that even more changes for Medicare and Medicaid will be forthcoming once the legislation is adopted, because it gives the Secretary of Health Human Services broad authority to test new payment systems," Nawrocki observed.

For More Information

CCH analysts are available to discuss the tax, employee benefits and Medicare/Medicaid aspects of health care reform. Please contact: Neil Allen (847-267-2179 or neil.allen@wolterskluwer.com) or Brenda Au (847-267-2046 or brenda.au@wolterskluwer.com).

CCH's comprehensive book, Law, Explanation and Analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will go to press immediately following the final passage of the bill. Single-copy price is $149. For more information or to order, click here or call 1-800-248-3248.

For additional timely and expert discussion of health reform, visit Health Reform Talk, a blog to help professionals decipher the many codes and puzzles of health care reform. The blog, at http://healthcare-legislation.blogspot.com/, covers a wide range of health reform issues and draws on the expertise of Wolters Kluwer Law & Business analysts.

Wolters Kluwer Law & Business also publishes Health Care Reform Update NetNews, a free weekly newsletter delivered via e-mail. Click here to view an issue of the Health Care Reform Update NetNews.

About Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

Wolters Kluwer Law & Business is a leading provider of research products and software solutions in key specialty areas for legal and business professionals, as well as casebooks and study aids for law students. Its major product lines include Aspen Publishers, CCH, Kluwer Law International and Loislaw. Its markets include law firms, law schools, corporate counsel and professionals requiring legal and compliance information. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, a unit of Wolters Kluwer, is based in New York City and Riverwoods, Ill.

Wolters Kluwer is a market-leading global information services company. Professionals in the areas of legal, business, tax, accounting, finance, audit, risk, compliance, and healthcare rely on Wolters Kluwer's leading, information-enabled tools and solutions to manage their business efficiently, deliver results to their clients, and succeed in an ever more dynamic world. Wolters Kluwer has 2009 annual revenues of euro 3.4 billion, employs approximately 19,300 people worldwide, and maintains operations in over 40 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices.

SOURCE CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
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