Date: February 13, 2009
House Passes Conference Report on H.R. 1,
the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009"
On February 13, 2009, the House passed the conference report (H. Rept. 111-16) on H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, by a vote of 246-183. The conference report still needs to be approved by the Senate which is expected to consider the measure later today. The President is expected to sign the bill.
The conference report on the bill includes the following provisions of interest to SSA.
• Would appropriate an additional $1 billion to SSA's Limitation of Administrative Expenses, to be obligated by September 30, 2010. From this amount:
• $500 million would remain available until expended for necessary expenses of the replacement of the National Computer Center (NCC) and the information technology costs associated with such Center; and
• $500 million for processing disability and retirement workloads, including information technology acquisitions and research in support of such activities.
• Up to $40 million of the workload appropriation could be used for health information and technology to facilitate the adoption of electronic medical records in disability claims and to carry out SSI demonstration projects and research.
• Would provide SSA's Office of Inspector General $2 million for oversight and audit of programs, grants, and projects funded under this Act. Funding would be available until September 30, 2012.
Economic Recovery Payments to Certain Individuals
• Would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to provide a one-time economic recovery payment of $250 to adults who were eligible for benefits from one of the four following Federal benefit programs: Social Security, Railroad Retirement, Veterans Disability, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For SSI, disabled children would also receive the payment but SSI recipients who reside in Medicaid-funded treatment facilities would not.
• Would limit recovery payments to those individuals who were eligible for benefits under one of the four programs for any of the 3 months prior to the month of enactment.
• Would provide that if a Social Security or SSI beneficiary has a representative payee, the recovery payment would be paid to the payee.
• Would provide that no more than one $250 recovery payment may be made to an individual. If the individual is also eligible for a "Making Work Pay" credit provided under other provisions of the bill, that credit would be reduced by the recovery payment, with such adjustment being made through the individual's tax return.
• Would specify that the recovery payment would be made only to individuals whose address of record is in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia , Puerto Rico, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa , or the Northern Mariana Islands .
• Would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to commence disbursing recovery payments at the earliest practicable date but in no event later than 120 days after the date of enactment. In no case would a special payment be made after December 31, 2010. The payment, once made, would be unaffected by any subsequent redetermination concerning entitlement to Social Security or SSI benefits during the three-month eligibility window.
• Would provide that an individual would not receive the recovery payment if his or her Social Security or SSI benefits have been suspended because he or she is in prison, a fugitive felon, a probation or parole violator, no longer lawfully present in the United States , or his or her benefits have been suspended under the administrative sanctions provision. In addition, the recovery payment would not be made if the individual dies before certification of the payment.
• Would provide that the $250 recovery payment would not be taken into account as income or taken into account for resources for the month of receipt and the following 9 months, for purposes of determining the eligibility for Federal benefits or federally funded State or local assistance.
• Would protect the recovery payment under the assignment and garnishment provisions of the four Federal benefit programs. However, would provide the Department of Treasury could reduce the special payment to offset an existing delinquent Federal debt.
• Would appropriate to SSA the funds necessary to make the one-time recovery payment, including $90 million for administrative expenses related to making the payments.
Health Information Technology (HIT)
• Would codify the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT in the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), as previously established by executive order (EO) on April 27, 2004, establish a Chief Privacy Officer in the Office of the National Coordinator, and expand upon existing HIT guidelines.
• Would establish an HIT Policy Committee to make policy recommendations to the National Coordinator. Would grant the National Coordinator a leading position in the establishment and operations of the HIT Policy Committee; however, membership would be determined by appointment from the Secretary of HHS, majority leader of the Senate, minority leader of the Senate, Speaker of the House, President, and Comptroller General. Would mandate a mix of public-private membership.
• Would establish an HIT Standards Committee to make recommendations to the National Coordinator on the standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for the electronic exchange of information. The HIT Standards Committee would be put together by the National Coordinator.
• Would establish requirements for application and use by Federal agencies of the standards and implementation specifications adopted by the National Coordinator. Would require that adopted standards and implementation specifications conform to HIPAA privacy and security law.
• Would establish that each federal agency (as defined by the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of HHS) must use adopted standards and implementation specifications when it implements, acquires, or upgrades health information technology systems.
• Would establish that the August 22, 2006, EO agencies must require that private entities use Federal standards and implementation specifications when contracting/entering into agreements.
• Would require that HHS immediately invest in the national HIT infrastructure. Federal agencies and broadly defined projects for investment are listed.
• Would authorize HHS to use resources to assist healthcare providers with adopting, implementing, and effectively using electronic health record technology. HHS would establish an HIT Research Center and regional extension centers to assist in doing this.
• Would authorize HHS to award grants to States to promote HIT and for the development of loan programs to facilitate the wide-spread adoption of certified electronic health record technology.
• Would establish guidelines for HIPAA covered entities to provide an accounting of disclosures of an electronic health record to the subject of that record.
• Would establish guidelines regarding the sale of Electronic Health Records. Reimbursement to the provider of the Electronic Health Record would be allowed when the subject of the record signed an authorization. Would require HHS to regulate fees for the exchange of records.
• Would mandate notification to affected parties in the event of a data breach.
• Would mandate a report, generated by HHS, on the application of privacy and security requirements to non-HIPAA covered entities.
• Would, beginning in 2011, provide bonus payments to certain Medicare providers who adopt certified HIT systems. Those who do not adopt certified HIT systems would eventually have their payment reduced. High-volume Medicaid providers would be eligible for a temporary payment to subsidize the adoption, maintenance or upgrade of a certified HIT system.
• Would authorize and appropriate such sums as may be necessary to the Secretary of HHS to implement HIT for each of the FYs 2009-2013. The funds would be available until expended.
• Would provide an additional $2 billion to the Secretary of HHS to invest in HIT.
Payments to Eligible Persons Who Served in the United States Armed Forces in the Far East During World War II
• Would establish a compensation fund for certain Filipino veterans of World War II to be administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
• During a one-year period following enactment, the Secretary would accept applications from eligible Filipino veterans and/or their surviving spouses.
• Payments of $9,000 (for a noncitizen) and $15,000 (for a citizen) would be made.
• These payments would not be considered in determining eligibility for special veterans benefits under Title VIII of the Social Security Act or eligibility for, or amount of, benefits for any other federally funded program.
• Would provide that an individual's acceptance of a payment under this provision would constitute a complete release of any claim against the United States by reason of such veteran's service.
Extension of the Qualifying Individual (QI) Program
• Would extend the Medicare Qualifying Individual (QI) program (a Medicare Savings Program) and its allocations through December 2010.