The GOP-controlled House recently took a break from trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Lawmakers instead approved a one-year delay for both the health law's individual insurance mandate and its requirement that employers with 50-plus full-time workers provider insurance.
The bills won't become law. They would never make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama has already threatened to veto both proposals. But GOP lawmakers are looking to make a point (or two) following the administration's move earlier this month to delay the employer mandate until 2015.
Their key message is that the law doesn't work and that the delay of the employer mandate only proves that the administration can't handle the implementation. Their other point : individuals shouldn't be expected to purchase health insurance under the law when businesses are getting a one-year reprieve.
The Obama administration countered with their own publicity push on the benefits of the law. In the wake of the House vote, the government issued a report showing that premiums in the soon-to-be-open health insurance marketplaces will be nearly 20% lower than they previously estimated.
Meanwhile over in the Senate, lawmakers were taking the administration to task for not doing more to encourage vendors to create electronic health record systems that can easily exchange information. Senators said physicians were fed up with cost and difficulty of working with the systems and they put government health IT officials on notice that they were growing inpatient too.
Check out this week's Policy & Practice podcast for more on this as well as early results on the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program and smartphone apps to help physicians track payments from industry.