Healthcare Wednesday

"Medicare officials were very specific and very forceful," John Gorman, former Medicare official and now private healthcare consultant, told The New York Times. "Insurers succumbed to the government’s demands and stayed in the Medicare market because they have become much more dependent on Medicare business.” http://nyti.ms/9PWf0L

Still, the insurance lobby waves a warning: Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, praised the industry for keeping MA costs low, but warned that the good news is temporary. Steeper MA cuts scheduled for after 2011 — included as part of the reform law — will erode benefits and lead to higher costs down the line, she said. 

"Medicare health plans are doing everything they can to keep coverage as affordable as possible for the more than eleven million seniors in Medicare Advantage," Ignagni said in a statement. "Nevertheless, as deep cuts go into effect in the coming years, government experts have forecasted that millions of seniors will experience higher costs, reduced benefits and fewer choices."

Dems fail to lure Coburn's support for a food safety bill: Sen. Tom Coburn on Tuesday rebuffed a Democratic attempt to have the Oklahoma Republican drop his hold on a food safety bill in exchange for a vote on an offset amendment.

"If the Majority Leader wants the bill to advance he should pay for it," Coburn spokesman John Hart said, referring to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "Dr. Coburn isn't responsible for the Majority Leader's failure to write offsets into the base bill." http://bit.ly/bRjy9u

A look at Medicare fraud: The Energy and Commerce health subcommittee will gather Wednesday morning to examine strategies for reining in fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid — an effort Democrats have said can save taxpayers billions of dollars without compromising the quality of care.

Featured testimony will come from Daniel Levinson, the HHS Inspector General, and Peter Budetti, Medicare's deputy administrator for program integrity. http://bit.ly/bOmr1h

And a look at eggs: Member of the Energy and Commerce oversight subpanel meet later in the day to take a closer look at the salmonella outbreak that led to the recall of millions of eggs produced by Iowa's Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms.

Among the witnesses will be Michael R. Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods. http://bit.ly/azaz95

Reproductive rights advocates take on Hyde: On Capitol Hill Wednesday, a number of liberal Democrats will join abortion rights advocates in releasing a new report — compiled by the Center for Reproductive Rights — outlining "how the Hyde Amendment harms poor women." 

Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Col.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) are scheduled to attend. 

The gusher in the Gulf might be capped, but the health concerns remain: The Institute of Medicine is holding a workshop in Tampa Wednesday to discuss the health implications of the spill for local communities and cleanup workers.