OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Administration to hold private reform meetings

Medicare fixes on the table: The Senate Finance Committee is working on several Medicare payment updates that it hopes to pass by unanimous consent before year's end, congressional and lobbyist sources told The Hill. The package would include items that got left out of last week’s “doc fix,” which extended a number of Medicare provisions. However, Republicans said the package is not a done deal. http://bit.ly/f2J1LL

1099 will have to wait: Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) failed in a last-ditch effort to win approval for his plan to repeal the 1099 tax-filing requirement included in the healthcare reform law. Despite having support from President Obama to repeal the provision, Democrats and Republicans are arguing over how to fund the $19 billion repeal. The next Congress is expected to take up the 1099 issue. http://bit.ly/dFuEdL

Sickening food: While a bill to overhaul the nation’s food-safety system is still in limbo, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said that one in six Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses each year. The new numbers were the first comprehensive study on foodborne illness since 1999. Proponents of the food-safety overhaul said the new report highlights the need to pass the bill, which is included in the Senate’s omnibus package to keep the government funded through Sept. 30. http://bit.ly/hHhqW8

Some supplements misleading: Some products marketed as dietary supplements have an “alarming variety” of undeclared active ingredients, according to a letter the Food and Drug Administration sent Wednesday to the drugs' manufacturers. Some products marketed as dietary supplements have also been found to contain controlled substances, and they are often improperly marketed for other purposes, such as weight loss, sexual enhancement and bodybuilding. http://bit.ly/egY4vV

Reform law opponent makes case in appeals court:
A federal court in Michigan that upheld the reform law’s individual mandate in October wrongly interpreted the Constitution’s commerce clause, the Thomas More Law Center said in an appellate court brief filed Wednesday afternoon. The brief is the first reform law challenge to be filed in a federal appeals court, while the Obama administration already said it would appeal a district court judge’s Monday decision to strike down the individual mandate. http://bit.ly/hu28k3

Reform opponents urge vote against omnibus: A nonprofit organization formed to oppose the reform law is calling on four Republican senators to vote against the omnibus spending bill, claiming that it funds implementation of the reform law. http://bit.ly/f9yxgM

Congress passes Alzheimer's law: The House on Wednesday passed by voice vote a bill creating a federal Office of the National Alzheimer's Project tasked with developing a national plan to overcome Alzheimer's and helping to coordinate treatment and care for the people suffering from it. The $2 million bill cleared the Senate last week. http://bit.ly/fBeBgO

Sharing is caring:
Six of the nation's leading healthcare systems announced Wednesday that they're banding together to share data on outcomes, quality and costs in a first-of-its-kind collaborative effort. The systems will initially focus on eight costly conditions and treatments that have wide varieties in quality and outcomes: knee replacement, diabetes, heart failure, asthma, weight-loss surgery, labor and delivery, spine surgery and depression. http://bit.ly/ik5M9m

Romney says Virginia judge got it right: Likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Judge Henry E. Hudson was correct to rule the individual mandate unconstitutional on Monday. The Republican's presidential prospects may be affected by his main healthcare achievement as former governor of Massachusetts — a statewide individual mandate. http://bit.ly/dGzjJY

Virginia panel says reform worth it: A day after Hudson’s ruling, a panel appointed by Virginia’s governor said the state should act quickly to implement the reform law’s requirements. The panel’s report said Virginia should create a state-run insurance market possibly before the 2014 deadline included in the reform law.

On the agenda for Thursday:

Healthcare reform hearing: A federal district court in Florida will hear oral arguments Thursday on a 21-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the reform law’s individual mandate. Unlike the Virginia case decided this week, the Florida lawsuit also challenges the reform law’s expansion of Medicaid.

Presidential bioethics report coming: President Obama’s commission on bioethical issues will release its first report on the controversial topic of synthetic biology. Obama requested the report following news in May that researchers inserted a man-made genome into a bacterial cell, creating a new organism not found in nature. 

Focus on innovation: Richard Gilfallan, the acting head of the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, is the keynote speaker at a Health Affairs conference on improving patient care coordination and reducing costs.

Healthcare’s racial gap: The Center for American Progress will issue two new reports exploring how the healthcare reform law will help minority groups with chronic illnesses and how it will address gaps in data measuring ethnic healthcare disparities.


CMS administrator Donald Berwick makes the case for individual mandate, Modern Healthcare reports. http://bit.ly/eGGwV4

Private equity investment in healthcare will increase next year, The Wall Street Journal reports. http://on.wsj.com/e5sNLq

The judge who struck down the reform law’s individual mandate had moderated a debate involving Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli last year, The Washington Post reports. http://wapo.st/eP3EcU

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Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com / 202-628-8527

Jason Millman: jmillman@thehill.com / 202-628-8351