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

(RIVERWOODS, ILL., September 9, 2009) – Significant changes to the way employers provide health benefits to their employees – or choose not to provide them – may be in the offing as Congress addresses health care reform following its August recess. Major changes would also be in store for Medicare and Medicaid, according to Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, a leading provider of research information and software solutions for legal, business compliance and human resources professionals (hr.cch.com).

To read a CCH Briefing on the lay of the land on various employer and Medicare-related provisions being contemplated as part of health care reform, go to: http://health.cch.com/cforms/SpecialReport-HealthCareReform.aspx.

The House Ways and Means, House Education and Labor and House Energy and Commerce Committees have all approved slightly different versions of America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, H.R. 3200. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved its own version of reform. The Senate Finance Committee has released a framework for health care reform which includes elements of these other bills even as it tries to work out a bipartisan compromise.

Common elements so far include 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” requirement. Credits have been proposed to ease the financial burden on low-income individuals and small businesses.

Employers might also see measures aimed at the tax exclusion for high-value medical plans, limitations on health savings accounts, reimbursement of health expenses under flexible spending arrangements and health reimbursement accounts.

“If it passes, health care reform is certain to impact every business in the country, whether it’s currently providing coverage to its employees or not,” said Stephen Huth, managing editor of the Spencer’s Benefits Reports research service produced by 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 much of the public debate on health care reform has centered on the existing private health insurance market and its possible supplementation by a “public option,” more than 600 pages of the 1,000-plus page House bill are devoted to changes in Medicare and Medicaid.

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.

“Medicare is seen as an area where savings can be realized that will reduce the overall cost of health care reform and also deliver higher-quality care to beneficiaries,” said Paul Clark, senior Medicare analyst with Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. “Dozens of changes have been proposed, and eventually many may be enacted even if health care reform as a whole is unsuccessful.”

For More Information

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. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, a unit of Wolters Kluwer, is based in New York City and Riverwoods, Ill.

Wolters Kluwer is a leading global information services and publishing company. The company provides products and services for professionals in the health, tax, accounting, corporate, financial services, legal, and regulatory sectors. Wolters Kluwer had 2008 annual revenues of €3.4 billion, employs approximately 20,000 people worldwide, and maintains operations in over 35 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices. Visit www.wolterskluwer.com for information about our market positions, customers, brands, and organization.

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