By Healthwatch staff - 03/30/11 10:45 PM EDT
Rationing fight averted: Medicare said Wednesday it will pay for the costly prostate cancer treatment Provenge, avoiding what could have inspired new healthcare rationing claims from Republicans. The $93,000 drug extends the life of a patient by four months on average. Officially, Medicare is banned from considering a drug's cost when deciding whether to pay for it. Today's decision was just preliminary, and a final ruling is due within 90 days.
A new chip: Several House Republicans will introduce a new bill that would subject almost $105 billion in healthcare reform long-term spending authorizations to the annual appropriations process. Republicans think they can gain serious leverage if they round up enough co-sponsors. Read the Healthwatch story.
E&C targets funds: The Energy and Commerce Health subpanel, which already held a hearing on long-term spending included in healthcare reform, will hold votes on several bills Thursday eliminating some funds. Republicans want to remove funding for state exchanges, a prevention and public health fund, and grants for the construction of school-based health centers. They also want to subject education funding on the individual mandate and teaching health center grants to the annual appropriations process. Here's the vote announcement.
Medicare transparency: Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) introduced legislation to bring transparency into how Medicare payments are determined. Critics say the process overvalues specialists and contributes to a shortage of primary care doctors. The bill is endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Society of General Internal Medicine.
CBO chief says funds weren't hidden: Douglas Elmendorf, head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, said he was well aware of the healthcare law's long-term spending authorizations, although Republicans claim they recently uncovered them. Read the Healthwatch post.
Republicans accuse AARP of selling out: Three House Republicans released a new report Wednesday that accuses AARP of selling out seniors in exchange for $1 billion in insurance royalties. The Ways and Means Committee members said their investigation was not sparked by AARP's support of healthcare reform, though they said the organization betrayed seniors by supporting the overhaul. Julian Pecquet has the story.
Who pays?: The cost of a new 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales would likely be passed onto individuals, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services actuary Rick Foster told lawmakers on Tuesday. "That would be the typical reaction," Foster told the Energy and Commerce Health subpanel. Hospital groups warned this week that the tax, which goes into effect in 2013, would likely be passed on to everyone but the device makers.
Abortion battle goes on: Live Action is out with a new video that claims to expose Planned Parenthood lies about what healthcare services it provides besides abortion. In the video, an undercover caller asks 30 Planned Parenthood sites about obtaining a mammogram from the group, only to be turned away by each one. However, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson adamantly denounced the video, saying the organization has never claimed to provide mammograms.
Three, two, one ... takeoff: Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) relaunched the Senate Medical Technology Caucus.
Gingrich talks healthcare: Likely Republican presidential candidate New Gingrich will tout his ideas for healthcare reform when he speaks to the GOP Congressional Health Care Caucus at 12:30. The former House Speaker, in a recent speech in Washington, predicted the Democrats' healthcare law will be repealed in 2013.
Sebelius looks to reform's future: The HHS secretary will be interviewed by Bloomberg Government at D.C.'s Newseum Thursday morning. Also appearing on a discussion panel: Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.), America's Health Insurance Plans CEO Karen Ignagni, National Federation of Independent Business CEO Dan Danner, and Advanced Medical Technology Association CEO Stephen Ubl.
Ways and Means on abortion: The House panel will mark up a bill that end tax breaks for private plans that provide abortion care, with exceptions for rape, incest and concern for the mother's health. Here's the bill.
Around the Web:
Texas healthcare advocates are protesting proposed Medicaid cuts, The Associated Press reports.
The Obama administration is delaying some rules for appealing health insurance denials, Kaiser Health News reports.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) wants to make health IT stimulus funds available to mental health providers, the Center for Public Integrity writes.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) wants to use $86 million from the sale of three prisons, as well as federal matching funds, to avoid deeper Medicaid cuts, The Associated Press reports.
The FDA will not take enforcement action against pharmacies that continue to compound versions of a drug that reduces the risk of preterm births, says National Journal.
Lobbying registrations (since Friday):
– Capitol City Group / Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island
– Foley Hoag / Onyx Pharmaceuticals
– Gibbons & Company / Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Norris Cotton Cancer Center (New Hampshire)
– Gibbons & Company / University of Colorado (genetic cancer signatures and biomarkers)
– Harshman Consulting / Correctional TeleCare Solutions (prison healthcare)
– Hughes Hubbard & Reed / Biotechnology Industry Organization (intellectual property)
– Ogilvy Government Relations / Bristol-Myers Squibb
What you might have missed on Healthwatch:
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said Republicans can forget about defunding healthcare through the appropriations process.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) thinks a hearing on the effects of a government shutdown is a good idea.
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