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Pelosi Says House Could Pass Senate Bill Under Two-Track Approach

"Laying out a possible path to approving healthcare legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said Wednesday that the House should pass the Senate's version and then use a process known as 'budget reconciliation' to make the changes some lawmakers are demanding, " The Los Angeles Times reports. "But House and Senate leaders have not agreed on what later changes to make to the Senate bill. Among other things, House Democrats have demanded elimination of a new tax on high-end 'Cadillac' insurance plans. They also want more subsidies to help low- and moderate-income Americans buy health coverage, and more aid to help states expand Medicaid.

Pelosi Outlines Strategy To Pass Health Reform In House

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said that she could gather enough votes to pass the Senate's health care reform bill (HR 3590) if the upper chamber agrees to make several changes to the bill through reconciliation, CongressDaily reports. While speaking to reporters before President Obama's State of the Union address, Pelosi said her chamber is not likely to pass the Senate's bill in its current form, but "we can pass this thing" by using reconciliation and a two-track approach to "resolv[e] some of the issues." Although several moderate Democrats earlier in the week said they were against using reconciliation, Pelosi argued that the procedural maneuver was "established for this purpose.

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One In Five Nursing Homes Receive Poor Quality Ratings, Analysis Finds

USA Today: "One in five of the nation's 15, 700 nursing homes have consistently received poor ratings for overall quality, a USA Today analysis of new government data finds. More than a quarter-million patients live in homes given another set of low scores within the past year, according to data released today by Medicare, which first released the star ratings of the nation's nursing homes in late 2008. The ratings are derived from inspections, complaint investigations and other data collected mostly in 2008 and 2009. ... nearly all homes that repeatedly received few overall stars - one or two stars - were owned by for-profit corporations, the data show.

Obama To Propose Spending Freeze On Many Domestic Programs

President Obama during his State of the Union speech on Wednesday is expected to propose a three-year freeze on federal funding for a range of domestic programs, administration officials announced on Monday, the New York Times reports. The spending freeze would not apply to entitlement programs in the federal budget -- such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- or any Veterans Affairs or national security-related initiatives under the Pentagon, the officials said. Administration officials added that in addition to the freeze, some programs will be cut (Calmes, New York Times, 1/26). The proposal would take effect Oct. 1 under the fiscal year 2011 federal budget -- which Obama is expected to unveil next week -- and apply only to specific domestic agencies whose budgets are approved by Congress annually (Feller/Taylor, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25).

New Medicare Quality Demonstrations In North Carolina, Indiana To Address Quality Improvement Efforts

Two demonstrations comprised of a community-wide health information exchange in Indiana and a consortium of several community care physician networks in North Carolina are being implemented to encourage the delivery of improved quality care to an estimated 130, 000 beneficiaries in those states, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The demonstrations are part of the national, five-year Medicare Health Care Quality (MHCQ) demonstration mandated by Congress in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). The Indiana and North Carolina demonstrations will make more effective use of best practice guidelines, encouraging shared decision making between providers and patients, and altering incentives for care delivery.

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Two Former LA Medical Center Owners To Pay 10 Million In Medicare Fraud Case

The Los Angeles Times: "The two former owners of City of Angels Medical Center will pay $10 million as part of a consent judgment over allegations that they performed unnecessary medical work on homeless people recruited from skid row shelters as part of a Medicare fraud scheme." Authorities alleged that the center would charge the government for the treatments (Grad, 1/26). KTLA News reports on the same case: "Many of those homeless patients were paid around $100 to come into the hospital by recruiter Estill Mitts. He claims to have received $20, 000 a month in kickbacks for the delivery of between 30 and 50 patients a month." Mitts and the center's two owners have pleaded guilty to criminal charges and are awaiting sentencing (1/26).

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