OVERNIGHT HEALTH: New continuing resolution doesn't fund reform law

Welcome to The Hill's evening roundup of the day's health policy news and advance look at tomorrow's schedule.

Monday’s health news:

Reform law funding scrapped: Funding for the new healthcare reform law is noticeably absent from a bill to keep the government running through March 4, after Republicans objected to an earlier proposal because they said it funded reform. Republicans singled out several reform law provisions in an earlier bill that would have kept the government funded through Sept. 30, but that version was scrapped late last week because of Republican opposition to reform funding and earmarks. http://bit.ly/gG37rb

Voters leaning toward repeal: For the first time since the reform law passed, most voters think a repeal of the law is likely, according to a Rasmussen survey. On repeal, 52 percent said it was “at least somewhat likely,” up from 38 percent after the law was passed. In another Rasmussen survey released Monday, nearly 80 percent of Tea Party members thought their movement would become more influential over the next two years. http://bit.ly/goKPHe

CBO re-scores 9/11 health benefits: The new bill that would provide health benefits and compensation to Ground Zero workers will cut $108 million from the deficit through fiscal 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Democrats over the weekend cut the bill’s cost from $7.4 billion to $6.2 billion and changed the funding mechanism to impose a tax on foreign manufacturers and extend certain visa fees. Supporters are still hoping to bring up the bill for a vote this week.

Fairer reimbursement: The reform law’s new Medicaid drug-rebate formula will provide more accurate reimbursements to pharmacists, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and pharmacists praised the report’s findings. http://bit.ly/ffFucs

Point of no return: Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a conference call with reporters “there is no going back” on the healthcare reform law. She warned Monday afternoon that a repeal of the reform law would allow insurance companies to return to rescission policies and unreasonable rate hikes. Sebelius said she has not seen specifics from Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) about his proposal to remove the law’s individual mandate, but she made it clear that the healthcare overhaul doesn’t work without the mandate, which she called the “personal responsibility provision.”

Not enough pediatricians: Even though the number of pediatricians is up 50 percent over the past decade, the doctors are not evenly distributed throughout the country, according to a new study in Pediatrics journal. Some affluent areas have too many pediatricians, while other parts have none.

Bill will back deficit commission:
Sens. Saxby Chamliss (R-Ga.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) will introduce a bill early next year based on recommendations from President Obama’s deficit commission. The report failed to get enough support from commission members to win a vote in Congress, but some aspects were received well by both sides of the aisle. The commission identified federal healthcare spending as the country’s biggest long-term fiscal challenge. http://bit.ly/eP7C8z

Mobility assistance: Durable medical equipment providers are calling on Congress to delay by one year a Medicare wheelchair policy set to go into effect Jan. 1. Under the new policy, government will reimburse providers through rental payments over the first 13 months a patient has a power wheelchair. However, industry groups say they can’t obtain the necessary financing to transition to this change because of the recession. Forty-four House members supported the delay in a letter earlier this year.
 
In the year 2011: Record health IT spending, significant benefit changes and quality-focused payment models will be the top healthcare trends to watch for next year, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Health Research Institute.

Progressive group outlines ACO recs: The left-leaning Center for American Progress issued policy recommendations on accountable care organizations (ACOs), boosted by the reform law. The center echoed the Medicare payment advisory body’s concerns that ACOs might receive the same public backlash experienced by managed care organizations in the 1990s. http://bit.ly/fwyL6Q

For next Congress: House Democratic leaders are trying to drum up support for a bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration more power to monitor drugs produced overseas. http://bit.ly/esOc6R

HHS planning: The department released its semiannual regulatory agenda on Monday.

Wasteful health costs: Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) annual list of wasteful government spending included $35 million in Medicare funds paid to “phantom” medical clinics.


On the agenda for Tuesday:

CR vote in the morning: The Senate is expected to take a cloture vote Tuesday morning on a bill that would keep the government funded at current levels until March 4. The current three-day CR expires Tuesday.

Reform law announcement: Sebelius will host a press conference Tuesday morning with an announcement “regarding efforts to bring unprecedented transparency and accountability to the health insurance market.” Jay Angoff, director of the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, will also attend. 

Food safety almost done: The House might vote as early as Tuesday on a food-safety bill for the third time, but this time the legislation will go directly to the president. The Senate already approved the bill over the weekend.


Around the Web:

The Pentagon healthcare plan doesn’t cover treatment for brain injuries, NPR reports. http://n.pr/fKW15s

The Wall Street Journal looks at existing ACOs. http://on.wsj.com/ebwqjQ

Massachusetts, which has a statewide individual mandate, proposes a higher penalty for residents who don’t have health insurance, Business Insurance reports. http://bit.ly/g7Q4Sr

Medicare’s prescription drug plan will likely survive Republican repeal and replace efforts, Atlantic Information Services reports. http://bit.ly/gjNGZ5

States’ implementation of the reform law rolls on, PBS reports. http://to.pbs.org/eB0LYe

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



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