OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Pitts, Burgess named at top of E&C health panel

Drug companies biggest defrauders of government, report says: Pharmaceutical companies were responsible for 25 percent of fines paid to the government under the False Claims Act over the past decade, according to a new study by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. http://bit.ly/fkFtJe

PhRMA responds: The industry has strengthened its compliance efforts since adopting a tougher code of conduct two years ago, the trade association Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in a statement.

FDA revokes approval for late-stage breast cancer treatment: The Food and Drug Administration recommended revoking approval of an expensive drug for treating late-stage breast cancer two years after approving it. http://bit.ly/fB1o61

Republicans claim rationing: Energy and Commerce Republicans brought back allegations that persisted during the healthcare reform debate that the Obama administration wants to ration care. In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Republicans pointed out that the European Medicines Agency on Thursday approved Avastin for the same treatment. http://bit.ly/fCX3e5

Medicare agency targets fraud and abuse: The Obama administration will invest in new technology to prevent wasteful and fraudulent payments in federal health programs, officials said Thursday. http://bit.ly/eE7PB0

Panel OKs synthetic biology, urges federal attention: A presidential commission gave the green light to synthetic biology but said the federal government should keep close tabs on this growing field in recommendations issued Thursday morning. http://bit.ly/g5BjlU

Medical industry and patient groups urge omnibus passage: A coalition of research institutions, patient advocates and private businesses is urging Congress to pass the pending omnibus bill because it contains $32 billion for the National Institutes of Health in Fiscal Year 2011. http://bit.ly/idMOV8

Tea Party organization outlines strategy for healthcare repeal: An influential Tea Party group is urging Congress to hold votes in January to repeal healthcare reform in its entirety, according to a confidential memo to congressional Republicans. http://bit.ly/hTOH78

Administration uses Medicare grants to spread the word about reform law: State-based programs that help spread the word about Medicare benefits will have to increase beneficiaries' awareness about benefits of the healthcare reform law in order to get federal grants next year, the Medicare agency announced Thursday. http://bit.ly/fMuQCX


Innovation center coming together: The new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation created by the reform law will have a strategic plan in place within 30 days, acting head Richard Gilfillan told a Health Affairs conference this morning. The center, which is funded by $10 billion over 10 years, will play a key role in how CMS will transform the delivery of healthcare services to provide better quality and value, Gilfillan said. The most interesting part of the reform law, he said, is a provision that gives the HHS secretary the right to change CMS' payment structure if it can demonstrate a better way to deliver and pay for healthcare services.

On the agenda for Friday:

New insurance rate regulations pending: New regulations defining what constitutes "unreasonable" premium increases are expected any day after federal regulators sent them to the Office of Management and Budget for review. The regulations require health plans to publicly justify steep rate hikes starting with 2010 plan years and give states power to shut health insurers out of state health insurance exchanges starting in 2014. http://bit.ly/fJL60J

Administration holds private meetings with Medicare head: The White House has invited medical societies to discuss the healthcare law with the administration's controversial appointee to head Medicare. The first of several meetings on healthcare's implementation to be hosted by administration officials will take place Friday. http://bit.ly/ggPQRq

HHS meets with state officials on health exchanges: The Department of Health and Human Services continues a two-day meeting with more than 150 officials from 44 states to discuss the next steps in creating state health insurance exchanges. http://bit.ly/fxgXoV

Report highlights healthcare reform's breastfeeding boost: The Institute for Women's Policy Research releases a study Friday that quantifies how many breastfeeding working women stand to benefit from Democrats' healthcare reform law. The law requires employers to provide nursing breaks and a private, sanitary place to express breast milk for most mothers employed on an hourly basis. The report is due out around 1 p.m. http://bit.ly/1bAFr

Around the Web:

Florida judge hears healthcare suit arguments: The Obama administration asked the judge in the 20-state lawsuit against the healthcare reform law to dismiss the charges, saying the plaintiffs don't have standing. Judge Roger Vinson said he won't rule immediately, the Associated Press reports. http://abcn.ws/hZvpcx

Backup plan: Even if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate, the Obama administration can borrow a Medicare strategy to boost health insurance enrollment, the Associated Press reports. http://bit.ly/fH0AVK

Too friendly: Doctors on Facebook may be compromising the doctor-patient relationship because of insufficient privacy settings, according to the Journal of Medical Ethics. http://bit.ly/eArXgt

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

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