Health Care Wednesday

Public health bills come up: The House Energy and Commerce health panel takes up no fewer than 18 public health bills this afternoon. A spokeswoman for the committee tells The Hill that at least some of the bills are noncontroversial and have bipartisan support, so there's at least some chance they could clear the House this year.

They are:

•    H.R. 211, Calling for 2-1-1 Act of 2009;

•    H.R. 758, Pediatric Research Consortia Establishment Act;

•    H.R. 1032, Heart Disease Education, Analysis Research, and Treatment for Women Act;

•    H.R. 1210, Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act of 2009;

•    H.R. 1230, Bone Marrow Failure Disease Research and Treatment Act of 2009;

•    H.R. 1362, National MS and Parkinson's Disease Registries Act;

•    H.R. 1995, Eliminating Disparities in Diabetes Prevention Access and Care Act of 2009;

•    H.R. 2408, Scleroderma Research and Awareness Act;

•    H.R. 2818, Methamphetamine Education, Treatment, and Hope Act of 2009;

•    H.R. 2941, Johanna’s Law Reauthorization;

•    H.R. 2999, Veterinary Public Health Workforce and Education Act;

•    H.R. 5354,  Gestational Diabetes Act of 2009;

•    H.R. 5462, Birth Defects Prevention, Risk Reduction, and Awareness Act of 2010;

•    H.R. 5986, Neglected Infections of Impoverished Americans Act of 2010;

•    H.R. 6012, Diabetes Screening Utilization;

•    H.R. 6081, Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2010;

•    H.R. ___, Telehealth Improvement and Expansion Act of 2010; and

•    H.R. ___,  Health Data Collection Improvement Act.


Americans in the darkMany consumers are confused about the provisions of the healthcare reform law and unsure of timing for actual implementation, according to a new survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. When asked to choose from four dates for which the first round of major health care reform provisions officially take effect, only 14 percent correctly identified Sept. 23, 2010, the six-month anniversary of the law. http://bit.ly/cpMFMk


Business mandate survives: Efforts to repeal or curtail a new reporting mandate on businesses created by the healthcare reform law failed to clear the Senate's 60-vote procedural threshold Tuesday. Business groups and many lawmakers want to lessen the burdensome 1099 requirement that companies report purchases of goods from suppliers when costs exceed $600; but the provision raises more than $17 billion over 10 years as a health reform pay-for, making it doubtful that Democrats and Republicans will agree on how to pay for its elimination. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) filed new legislation Tuesday to repeal the measure, paid for with unused stimulus dollars.

Johanns side-effects: The Nebraska Republican's amendment repealing the 1099 requirement would have had direct consequences on the healthcare reform law. In addition to its main stated goal, it would have cut funding for prevention and public health by $11 billion and weakened the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance starting in 2014. http://bit.ly/arm7TP


Healthcare reform challenge moves forward: A federal judge in Florida heard oral arguments Tuesday in a multi-state challenge to the new law and indicated that he would likely dismiss several of the counts but would allow the suit to go forward on at least one count. The Pensacola News-Journal reports that U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson will decide before Oct. 14 on how to proceed. http://bit.ly/9sWtAk

The court will have oral arguments Dec. 16 on motions for summary judgments from both the federal government and the states challenging the law, the newspaper reports. The challengers in the lawsuit include 20 states and the National Federation of Independent Business.


Conservatives turn up the heat on Medicare: The American Enterprise Institute holds forth on what the latest reforms mean for Medicare, whether the program is up to the job, and what is at stake for doctors and patients. http://bit.ly/9LaHDM


Grassley to investigate cord blood industry: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)  announced Tuesday that he is launching an investigation into the marketing practices of major cord blood banking companies. In his letter to four major companies - Alpha Cord, Cord Blood Registry, PerkinElmer, and M.A.Z.E. Cord Blood Laboratories - Grassley credits a report on ABC's "World News with Diane Sawyer".

"After viewing the May 2010 investigational report by Dr. Richard Besser of ABC News on cord blood banking marketing abuses, I asked my Committee staff to research various cord blood banking companies and examine their marketing materials," the letters state. "I am writing to [company name] today to express my concern about what appears to be misleading statements in informational materials [company name] provides to the public, in particular expectant parents."


Conservative seniors group to launch: A conservative alternative to the AARP is set to launch today, reports Politico. The Alliance for Retirement Prosperity, headed by Social Security Institute president Larry Hunter, has $5 million to spend on its efforts to "repeal ObamaCare, prevent the rationing of health care and reform Medicare and Medicaid." http://politi.co/bnrd2y


Sebelius discusses behavioral health: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joins Pam Hyde, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to answer questions about how the healthcare reform law helps improve behavioral health across the country. The new law will "help strengthen behavioral health with important new provisions for prevention and new tools to help people obtain quality, affordable health care coverage," according to HHS. The live Webcast starts at about 5:15 p.m. and will be available at http://www.healthcare.gov/live

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