May 24, 2006
Rcent CRS Reports on Health Policy
Here is a list of recently released health policy and legislation-related reports published by the Congressional Research Service:
- MEDICARE: HISTORY OF PART A TRUST FUND INSOLVENCY PROJECTIONS
- THE HILL-BURTON UNCOMPENSATED SERVICES PROGRAM
- MEDICARE: FINANCING THE PART A HOSPITAL INSURANCE PROGRAM
- U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES TO THE GLOBAL SPREAD OF AVIAN FLU: ISSUES FOR CONGRESS
- MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: AN OVERVIEW
- THE IMPACT OF MEDICARE PREMIUMS ON SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFICIARIES
- MEDICAL MARIJUANA: REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF FEDERAL AND STATE POLICIES
- THE GLOBAL FUND TO FIGHT AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS, AND MALARIA: BACKGROUND AND CURRENT ISSUES
- MEDICAL MALPRACTICE INSURANCE: AN ECONOMIC INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW OF HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE
- MEDICAL MALPRACTICE BILLS: S. 22 AND S. 23, 109TH CONGRESS
MEDICARE: HISTORY OF PART A TRUST FUND INSOLVENCY PROJECTIONS
CRS Publication Date: 05/04/2006
Document No.: RS20946
Author(s): Jennifer O'Sullivan, Domestic Social Policy Division
Abstract: Almost from its inception, the HI trust fund has faced a projected shortfall. The insolvency date has been postponed a number of times, primarily due to legislative changes which had the effect of restraining growth in program spending. The 2006 report projects that, under intermediate assumptions, the HI trust fund will become insolvent in 2018, two years earlier than projected in 2005. The revision reflects slightly higher costs and an upward revision in short-range assumptions about utilization of HI services. The 2006 projection is eight years earlier than that projected in 2003, prior to the enactment of MMA. That law added to HI costs, primarily through higher payments to rural hospitals and to private plans under the MA program.
THE HILL-BURTON UNCOMPENSATED SERVICES PROGRAM
CRS Publication Date: 05/09/2006
Document No.: 98-968
Author(s): Barbara English, Knowledge Services Group
Abstract: The Hospital Survey and Construction Act of 1946 (P.L. 79-725), commonly known as the Hill-Burton Act, was enacted to provide federal financial assistance for the planning, construction, and improvement of health care facilities through grants, loans, and guaranteed loans under Title VI and later Title XVI of the Public Health Service Act. Since 1946, the Hill-Burton program has provided assistance to more than 6,900 hospitals and other health care facilities in more than 4,000 communities. The original legislation stipulated that, in return for assistance, facilities were required to provide free care for 20 years to eligible persons unable to pay for health care services. Although there has not been any Title VI funding authority for the program since FY1974, many facilities that received Hill-Burton funds continue to have an obligation to provide a certain level of uncompensated care. Facilities funded under Title XVI must provide uncompensated care in perpetuity. This report provides information on the act, the obligations and eligibility requirements for free care, and sources for further information.
MEDICARE: FINANCING THE PART A HOSPITAL INSURANCE PROGRAM
CRS Publication Date: 05/03/2006
Document No.: RS20173
Author(s): Jennifer O'Sullivan, Domestic Social Policy Division; and Heidi G. Yacker, Information Research Division
Abstract: Stressing the importance of considering the Medicare program as a whole, the trustees note that Medicare expenditures are expected to grow from 2.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004 to 7.5% in 2035. The difference between outlays and dedicated financing sources is estimated to reach 45% of outlays in 2012. This report will be updated upon receipt of the 2007 trustees' report.
U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES TO THE GLOBAL SPREAD OF AVIAN FLU: ISSUES FOR CONGRESS
CRS Publication Date: 05/01/2006
Document No.: RL33219
Author(s): Tiaji Salaam-Blyther, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Abstract: For FY2006, Congress has provided $33.5 million for global disease detection through Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations; and reserved for international avian flu efforts a portion of $3.8 billion through Defense appropriations. Bills introduced in the 109th Congress would increase U.S. resources allocated to the global fight against avian flu; develop a "Pandemic Fund" to augment ongoing U.S. and international avian flu and pandemic preparedness initiatives; increase funding for preventing the spread among animals of the H5N1 virus; and strengthen surveillance capacity within affected countries. This report provides an up-to-date account of global H5N1-related human infections and deaths, outline U.S. government and international responses to the global spread of H5N1, discuss situations in various countries affected by H5N1, and present some foreign policy issues for Congress.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: AN OVERVIEW
CRS Publication Date: 05/05/2006
Document No.: RL33358
Author(s): Bernadette Fernandez, Domestic Social Policy Division; Baird Webel, Government and Finance Division
Abstract: The rising cost of medical malpractice insurance is of concern to Congress largely because of its potential impact on the availability of health care providers and services. As malpractice insurance becomes increasingly expensive, some physicians claim that premium increases have forced them to limit the services they provide, move their practice locations, or leave medicine altogether. This is especially the case for certain specialists who have experienced the largest premium increases. Some providers have gone on strike to publicize their plight. They cite excessive malpractice lawsuits and unreasonably large jury awards as the causes of the malpractice insurance "crisis."
THE IMPACT OF MEDICARE PREMIUMS ON SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFICIARIES
CRS Publication Date: 04/26/2006
Document No.: RL33364
Author(s): Kathleen Romig, Domestic Social Policy Division
Abstract: This report shows how the deduction of Medicare Part B and Part D premiums affects Social Security beneficiaries. It describes how increases in Social Security benefits and Medicare premiums are calculated under current law and explains the circumstances under which Social Security beneficiaries are held harmless for increases in the Part B premium, as well as the premium assistance available to low-income beneficiaries. It shows the growth in Social Security benefits and Part B premiums in recent years; describes how rising Part B premiums have affected Social Security beneficiaries, comparing the effects of premium deductions on people with different levels of earnings; and provides estimates of Social Security benefits and Medicare Parts B and D premiums to 2080, using the Social Security and Medicare trustees' intermediate projections. It also describes how beneficiaries would be affected by projected Medicare premium increases. Finally, it outlines current legislation that would affect the relationship between Social Security benefits and Medicare premiums.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF FEDERAL AND STATE POLICIES
CRS Publication Date: 05/03/2006
Document No.: RL33211
Author(s): Mark Eddy, Domestic Social Policy Division
Abstract: The issue before Congress is whether to continue to support the executive branch's prosecution of medical marijuana1 patients and their providers, in accordance with marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, or whether to relax federal marijuana prohibition enough to permit the medical use of botanical cannabis products by seriously ill persons, especially in those states that have created medical marijuana programs under state law.
THE GLOBAL FUND TO FIGHT AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS, AND MALARIA: BACKGROUND AND CURRENT ISSUES
CRS Publication Date: 04/26/2006
Document No.: RL31712
Author(s): Tiaji Salaam, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Abstract: As of March 31, 2006, the Global Fund has approved more than 350 grants totaling nearly $5.2 billion for projects in more than 131 countries, of which about $2.1 billion has been disbursed in 127 countries. To date there have been five "rounds" of funding, with the Board approving proposals in April 2002, January 2003, October 2003, June 2004, and September 2005. However, in September 2005, due to a lack of available funding from donors, only a portion of proposals recommended for approval in Round 5 were officially approved. The remaining tentatively approved proposals received final approval in December 2005 after additional contributions were made.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE INSURANCE: AN ECONOMIC INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW OF HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE
CRS Publication Date: 04/27/2006
Document No.: RL31886
Author(s): Baird Webel, Government and Finance Division
Abstract: This report examines the economic issues and historical experience surrounding medical malpractice insurance. It includes an explanation of the fundamentals of insurance and how these fundamentals relate specifically to medical malpractice insurance. It also includes a discussion of the evolution of the medical malpractice insurance market since the 1970s and policy changes over this time, including an assessment of these changes.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE BILLS: S. 22 AND S. 23, 109TH CONGRESS
CRS Publication Date: 05/08/2006
Document No.: RL33406
Author(s): Henry Cohen, American Law Division
Abstract: Medical malpractice suits are governed, for the most part, by state law. S. 22, 109th Congress, the Medical Care Access Protection Act of 2006, or "MCAP Act," would impose federal standards on some aspects of medical malpractice suits, but it would leave other aspects to continue to be governed by state law. Unlike other pending medical malpractice bills, such as H.R. 5 and S. 354, S. 22 would not apply to products liability suits (i.e., it would apply only to medical malpractice suits against health-care providers, not to suits against manufacturers or sellers of defective medical products that cause injury). S. 23, the Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Access to Care Act, is identical to S. 22, except that S. 23 would apply only to suits alleging malpractice in connection with obstetrical or gynecological goods or services. This report summarizes the main provisions of S. 22 and S. 23.
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