OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Medicare solvency report expected Friday

Medicaid bill advances: The House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee voted along party lines Thursday to pass a bill that would repeal “maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements in the healthcare reform law. The law blocks states from cutting Medicaid eligibility before 2014, which many governors say they can’t afford.

Democrats held a united front against the MOE bill — a positive sign for advocates who worry that the measure might be Republicans’ best chance to chip away at healthcare entitlements before the next election. Read the story from Healthwatch's Sam Baker.

Bad news for Berwick: One of the government's key strategies for reforming the nation's healthcare system is in trouble, after a second group of leading medical institutions voiced concerns Thursday. In a letter to Medicare administrator Don Berwick, the leaders of 10 clinics that Democrats praised throughout the debate — including world-class institutions such as Geisinger, Billings and Dartmouth-Hitchcock — said they "ALL have serious reservations about the economics and the complexity" of proposed Accountable Care Organization regulations.

The letter comes one day after the trade association for physician group practices raised similar concerns. The organizations plan to submit more detailed comments as the regulation goes through the regular comment process.

Democrats and Republicans on the Ways and Means Health subcommittee vowed to work together on a permanent "fix" to Medicare payments for doctors. The issue is one of the few where both parties agree something needs to be done, but the $298 billion price tag on repeal all but dooms a bipartisan solution.

Commonwealth weighs in: The Commonwealth Fund used the hearing to push for alternative payment approaches such as primary care medical home fees, global fees — a payment rate that covers all the healthcare provided to an individual during a specified time interval — and rewards for performance.



Paying for pediatrics: Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) joined together Thursday to introduce legislation reauthorizing annual appropriations for the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Payment Program. 

President Obama has called for ending the program in his 2012 budget to save $330 million per year. Children's hospitals count on the money to pay pediatricians in training because they don't get Medicare funds like other hospitals do. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has more.

Going viral: Federal officials unveiled an action plan to prevent and treat viral hepatitis, which the government calls a "silent epidemic" affecting between 3.5 million and 5.3 million Americans. The plan aims to increase access to information and care for people who are at risk and those who are already infected.

Military mental health: The House Armed Services Committee has approved amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act from Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) that would enhance research into post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse by service members.


Reading list:

A former Medicare trustee argues in a Health Affairs blog post that healthcare reform will mean Medicare cuts for seniors.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) asked colleges and universities in his state to give students more information about healthcare — for example, by directing them to the administration's websites on the new law or to the pro-reform group Young Invincibles.

NPR summarizes a new report from consulting firm Milliman Inc. that says healthcare costs are rising.


Lobbying registrations:

Bell Pottinger USA / Leo Pharma

Bockorny Group / Intercell USA (lobbying on Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine)

What you might have missed on Healthwatch:
Yet another study finds a big gap between the health of the U.S. population and U.S. spending on healthcare.

Public health groups are ramping up a push for the Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol cigarettes.


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:
Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com / 202-628-8527
Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351
Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch