OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Preemie Act is back

The Preemie bill orders a variety of federal activities to reverse this trend, including research at the National Institutes of Health; data collection at the CDC; and demonstration projects involving healthcare providers at the Health Resources and Services Administration.

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The bill is supported by the March of Dimes, which reported in November that the U.S. preterm birth rate dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2011 to 11.7 percent.

"These improved rates mean not just healthier babies, but an estimated savings of about $3 billion in annual health care and economic costs to society," Eshoo and Lance wrote at the time. "But our work is far from over; the premature birth rate is still too high."

Overall, the March of Dimes gave the United States a "C" grade for its preterm birth rate in 2011. (Read more from that report here.) The organization's goal is to lower the rate to 9.6 percent by 2020.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) are co-sponsors of the companion Senate bill.

Rules purge: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is moving to eliminate "outdated or overly burdensome requirements" that cost healthcare facilities an estimated $676 million every year.

A proposed rule out Monday would cut red tape by terminating redundant data submission requirements; loosening physician supervision rules; permitting registered dietitians more latitude in patient care; and cutting unnecessary rules for ambulatory surgical centers, among other provisions. Federal health officials said they are "committed to the president's vision of creating an environment where agencies incorporate and integrate the ongoing retrospective review of regulations ... to achieve a more streamlined and effective regulatory framework."

Healthwatch covered the new proposed rule here.

Visit Healthwatch for ... Amgen tweaks lobbying roster after win in 'fiscal cliff' bill

Kasich's a yes: Ohio's Republican governor backed the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion on Monday. John Kasich is now the fifth GOP governor to do so in spite strongly criticizing the underlying bill. Expanding Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty line would add nearly 600,000 Ohioans to the program's rolls, according to one estimate. The federal government will cover all costs up front, scaling its contribution back to 90 percent later on. Read more about Kasich's announcement at Healthwatch.

Remember the welfare debate? From the election? House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) threw another punch Monday, demanding documents from federal health officials and threatening subpoenas if requests are not met. Camp, Hatch and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney had accused Obama of "gutting" welfare's work requirement last fall. The administration says its policy will increase employment for people on welfare and answers state requests for flexibility. Healthwatch has more about Monday's development. 

Gift disclosure:
More than half of doctors are (a) unaware of the Sunshine Act, which will create a publicly accessible database of industry payments to medical practitioners and (b) concerned about the idea, according to a new survey. Tech firm MMIS Inc. reported Monday that most doctors receive some kind of industry benefit in the workplace, including food and beverages (57 percent) and samples (54 percent). The results coincide with the release of a final Sunshine Act rule on Friday, which ordered data collection to begin this fall. Read more about the survey at Healthwatch.

'Eliminating disparities': Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius marked the start of African-American History Month with a statement praising the healthcare law for helping to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for racial equality in the United States.

"Without access to quality health care and the security of health insurance for all Americans, we cannot truly have freedom and equal opportunity for all," Sebelius said in statement. "For too long, African-Americans have faced challenges getting the health care they need, and consequently, their opportunities have been limited."

She went on to commend black trailblazers in the medical profession, including Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first successful heart surgery in 1893. Read more from her statement here.


Tuesday's agenda

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will deliver a major speech at the American Enterprise Institute to spell out his conference’s policy agenda for the coming legislative session.

The House Oversight Committee will decry federal budget waste in a hearing.

The House Education and Workforce Committee will examine challenges facing U.S. workplaces, including employer mandates, in a hearing.

The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution will look at proposals to reduce gun violence in a hearing that could touch on mental health treatment.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will speak at a press conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act.

The Atlantic Council and PricewaterhouseCoopers will host a symposium on the future of healthcare policy with an official from Novartis AG.

NARAL Pro-Choice America will mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision with a dinner at the Washington Hilton hotel. Among the speakers will be Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for Obama, and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).


State by state

Corbett may wait on Medicaid expansion decision

Fallin: Oklahoma Medicaid expansion 'unaffordable'

Feds 'okay' Florida Medicaid proposal for long-term care patients


Lobbying registrations

Van Scoyoc Associates / Florida International University

McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies / The Methodist Hospital


Reading list

Catholic hospital takes surprise stance in lawsuit

Contraception lawsuits could go to SCOTUS

Obamacare transforms med school

FDA approves generic version of cancer drug Doxil


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

NFL could spend off-season playing defense amid Capitol Hill scrutiny

Obama glad NFL starting to take player concussions, safety issues ‘seriously’

NFL commissioner ‘optimistic’ about league’s future despite safety concerns

Week ahead: House returns to healthcare-stuffed agenda

Senate GOP probes Treasury pick Lew’s failure to comply with Medicare law

Ron Paul criticized for tweet on sniper's death

Improper Medicare payments to prisoners and illegal immigrants topped $100 million


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Please let us know:

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

Elise Viebeck: eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523

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