The Conference Committee on payroll / UI / doc fix has concluded and the report will be filed shortly. Below is a short summary of the conference report (more detailed information on the report has been sent to your LD). Please let us know if you have any questions or need additional information.
Reforms the Federal Unemployment Insurance Programs
· Reduces the Number of Weeks for Benefit Eligibility
o Eliminates 20 Weeks of EB: Effectively eliminates the “Extended Benefits” (EB) program, which allowed states to receive an additional 20 weeks of federal benefits (same reduction as in H.R. 3630).
o 63 weeks vs. 93 Weeks: Also reduces the maximum number of “Emergency Unemployment Compensation” (EUC) benefits while raising the unemployment rate triggers so that by the end of the year the significant majority of states (36) receive a maximum of 63 weeks of benefits, compared to 46 states currently receiving 93 weeks of benefits.
· Job Search Requirements: Requires those receiving unemployment benefits at both the state and federal level to look for a job starting on day one.
· Drug Screening & Testing: Allows, for the first time, every state to drug screen and test any applicant who (1) lost their job because they failed or refused an employer drug test, or (2) is seeking a job that generally requires a drug test.
· Re-employment Programs: Allows waivers for up to 10 states for innovative re-employment programs like Georgia Works.
· No More Welfare Benefits at Strip Clubs & Liquor Stores: Closes the loophole that allowed benefits to be used at strip clubs, liquor stores, and casinos.
Protects Current Medicare Beneficiaries & Reforms Certain Medicare Programs
· “Doc Fix”: Eliminates the 27.4% cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients and extends current payment rates through 2012.
· Eliminates two “extender programs” included in the 2 month patch (mental health add-on payments and an Obamacare provision that increased payments for bone density scans).
· Phases-out two programs: Extends Section 508 hospitals (through March 31, 2012) and special pathology payments (through June 31, 2012), providing time for these providers to adapt to these changes.
· Extends for one year: Ambulance add-on payments, physician work floor, and outpatient hospital hold harmless payments while requiring GAO, MedPAC and CMS to report to Congress on their effectiveness and ways to greater protect taxpayer dollars. Extends and reforms the therapy cap exception process by requiring great accountability, which will eliminate wasteful spending
Payroll Tax Holiday Extended Through 2012
· The payroll tax holiday is extended through December 31, 2012, allowing the typical American to keep an extra $1,000 of their hard-earned money.
Government Spending Is Fully Offset
· The agreement offsets all unemployment program spending through:
o Spectrum Auctions, which spur innovation, investment and job creation in the high tech field.
o Reductions in retirement benefits for civilian federal employees.
· Repeals Key Parts of Obamacare and Includes Other Health Savings
o Cuts to Obamacare ($11.6 billion) account for much of the offsets for the Medicare spending in the agreement (and is the largest cut to Obamacare to date)
· Cuts an Obamacare slush fund (the Prevention & Public Health Fund) by $5 billion.
· Recoups $2.5 billion by correcting a drafting error that allowed Louisiana to receive excess Medicaid funding via the “Louisiana Purchase” in Obamacare.
· Reduces Medicaid spending by $4.1 billion.
o Other health savings include reductions to Medicare “bad debt” payments (phase down to 65%) saving $6.9 billion and reduction to payment rates for clinical laboratories saving $2.7 billion.
Kelly A. Dixon
Deputy Floor Director
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy