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Monday, July 12, 2010

Medicare Provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA): Summary and Timeline

Patricia A. Davis, Coordinator
Specialist in Health Care Financing

Jim Hahn
Analyst in Health Care Financing

Geoffrey J. Hoffman
Analyst in Health Care Financing

Paulette C. Morgan
Specialist in Health Care Financing

Julie Stone
Specialist in Health Care Financing

Sibyl Tilson
Specialist in Health Care Financing

Medicare is a federal program that pays for covered health services for most persons 65 years old and older and for most permanently disabled individuals under the age of 65. The rising cost of health care, the impact of the aging baby boomer generation, and declining revenues in a weakened economy continue to challenge the program's ability to provide quality and effective health services to its 45 million beneficiaries in a financially sustainable manner.

On March 23, 2010, the President signed into law H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA; P.L. 111-148), as passed by the Senate on December 24, 2009, and the House on March 21, 2010. The new law will, among other things, make numerous statutory changes to the Medicare program. On March 30, 2010, the President signed into law H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the "Reconciliation Act," or HCERA; P.L. 111-152), which modifies a number of Medicare provisions in PPACA and adds several new provisions.

This report, one of a series of CRS products on PPACA and the Reconciliation Act, examines the Medicare related provisions in these Acts. Estimates from CBO on PPACA and the Reconciliation Act indicate that net reductions in Medicare direct spending will reach approximately $390 billion from FY2010 to FY2019. Major savings are expected from constraining Medicare's annual payment increases for certain providers, tying maximum Medicare Advantage payments near or below spending in fee-for-service Medicare, reducing payments to hospitals that serve a large number of low-income patients, creating an Independent Payment Advisory Board to make changes in Medicare payment rates, and modifying the high-income threshold adjustment for Part B premiums. A new Hospital Insurance tax for high-wage earners will also raise approximately $87 billion over 10 years, and a new Medicare tax on net investment income, added by the Reconciliation Act, is expected to raise an additional $123 billion over 10 years.

Other provisions in PPACA address more systemic issues, such as increasing the efficiency and quality of Medicare services and strengthening program integrity. For example, PPACA requires the establishment of a national, voluntary pilot program that will bundle payments for physician, hospital, and post-acute care services with the goal of improving patient care and reducing spending. Another provision adjusts payments to hospitals for readmissions related to certain potentially preventable conditions. In addition, PPACA subjects providers and suppliers to enhanced screening before allowing them to participate in the Medicare program, and both PPACA and the Reconciliation Act increase funding for anti-fraud activities.

PPACA also improves some benefits provided to Medicare beneficiaries. For instance, Medicare prescription drug program enrollees will receive a 50% discount off the price of brand-name drugs during the coverage gap (the "doughnut hole") starting in 2011, and the coverage gap will be phased out by 2020. Other provisions expand assistance for some low-income beneficiaries enrolled in the Medicare drug program, and eliminate beneficiary copayments for certain preventive care services.

Date of Report: June 30, 2010
Number of Pages: 140
Order Number: R41196
Price: $29.95

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