Healthcare Tuesday

CMS to announce MA benefits: Top White House health officials are hosting a press call Tuesday morning to announce next year's benefits for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans — benefits they say will be "similar to 2010." 

The issue has been contentious because the Democrats' health-reform law cuts more than $100 billion in subsidies to the private MA plans. The move has led the sponsoring companies to warn that they'll likely be forced to drop some of the additional benefits MA plans often offer — things such as dental and eye care, which traditional Medicare doesn't cover.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Medicare Administrator Don Berwick will lead Tuesday's call. 

Dems versus insurers, Part XXVI: Top Senate Democrats are going after the insurance industry this week over the news that not only are some premium costs skyrocketing, but some companies are blaming the new health-reform law for the trend. 

"If an insurer thinks it can blame the enactment of the Affordable Care Act for its rising premiums, it is surely mistaken," Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) wrote to the country's largest insurance companies. "This level of misinformation is not acceptable." http://bit.ly/cuTeau

What did FDA officials know about the "phantom recall" on Motrin? That's the question Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is asking this week after ABC News reported Monday that e-mails bouncing between Johnson & Johnson executives suggest the Food and Drug Administration was aware the company had hired private contractors in late 2008 to scoop defective Motrin off of retailers' shelves. 

“Johnson and Johnson’s not off the hook," Issa told ABC Monday, "but neither is the FDA for being too cozy with industry and not forthcoming with Congress."

A House oversight hearing on the phantom recall is scheduled for Sept. 30. http://bit.ly/al76DR

Fish or threat? An FDA panel this week is weighing whether to allow the commercial sale of a salmon that's been genetically modified to grow much faster than its natural cousin. Early reports suggest the officials are leaning toward approval.

"Committee members, who were not asked to vote on whether the fish should be approved, did not point out anything about the fish that would seem dangerous, despite one study suggesting a possible increase in the potential to cause allergic reactions," The New York Times reported. "They said the chance the fish would escape into the wild was low." http://nyti.ms/ax8Cw9