Healthcare Tuesday

Democrats have been trying to lure the backing of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the force behind the plan to phase out the extra funding incrementally over the first half of 2011. On Monday, the Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported that Collins is willing to support the Medicaid extension as long as it’s paid for — a curious comment since the Democrats had already proposed to offset the entire cost. 

Collins’ office didn’t return a request for comment Monday. 

NEWS:

Who said healthcare reform was bad for business? UnitedHealth, the Minnesota-based insurance giant, announced Tuesday that its profits soared 31 percent in the three months immediately following enactment of the reform law, the Associated Press reports. “It is the first big health insurer to release its earnings every quarter,” the AP notes, “and many analysts and investors see it as a bellwether for the sector.”

OVERHEARD:

The Louisville Courier-Journal takes on Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) after the minority leader slammed the Democrats’ finance reform bill as another “government-driven solution” to the nation’s woes. 

“Well, yes,” the paper writes in a Tuesday editorial. “That is precisely why financial reform — like health care reform before it — is a potentially transformational moment. Both represent decisions by the people's elected representatives to employ public power to protect citizens from often unregulated actions by vast and powerful business interests that can have devastating effects.”

CALENDAR:

The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee meets Tuesday afternoon to examine ways to promote health information technologies (HIT). The featured testimony will come from David Blumenthal, national HIT coordinator at the Department of Health and Human Services, and Tony Trenkle, director of Medicare’s office of electronic health services. The hearing comes a week after the Obama administration unveiled new rules designed to encourage providers to adopt such technology, including e-prescribing systems and electronic health records.

Women's Policy Inc. hosts a Tuesday Capitol Hill briefing to highlight maternal health challenges in Afghanistan.

The Woodrow Wilson Center holds an afternoon Hill discussion on the health issues facing the nation’s poor, urban areas. 

The American Thoracic Society will host a Hill briefing on the science surrounding lung health. 

Also, an FDA committee on oncologic drugs will gather to discuss a proposal that Avastin, the popular cancer drug from Genentech, be permitted for use in certain breast cancer treatments.