The day ahead in health policy

Not a lot happening on Capitol Hill today, but plenty off.

The Health and Human Services Department kicks things off in the morning by unveiling long-awaited regulations regarding electronic health records. The regulations will spell out how doctors and hospitals can be eligible for $2 billion in incentives in last year's recovery act - and how they can avoid the penalties facing providers who fail to go paperless by 2015.

In the afternoon, the White House unveils its strategy to combat HIV and AIDS. But the administration won't have the podium to itself, as AIDS advocacy groups ramp up criticism of what they perceive to be a lack of funding for their cause.

In particular, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is launching an ad campaign appearing in Politico and on bus shelters near the White House that asks, "Who's Better on AIDS?" - President Barack Obama or George W. Bush? The global AIDS organization is pressing for more money for the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) abroad and the domestic AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).

Also, the Food and Drug Administration's drug safety advisory committee begins a two-day hearing on the "cardiovascular safety" of Avandia, a blockbuster GlaxoSmithKline diabetes drug that has been linked to heart attacks. The federal panel will examine whether the drug should stay on the market.

On Capitol Hill, the House Education and Labor Committee holds a hearing on mine-worker safety legislation. Sponsored by panel chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), the bill would make it easier for the nation’s miners to complain about unsafe conditions; grant mine safety regulators subpoena power when conducting investigations; hike penalties for safety violations; and empower federal regulators to close unsafe mines more easily.