OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Waiver controversy heats up again

Berwick speaks: The U.S. healthcare system can "have it all" — better and cheaper care — thanks to ACOs, Medicare Administrator Don Berwick writes in a guest column for Modern Healthcare.

Providers optimistic: The American Medical Association and the Premier healthcare alliance praised Tuesday's announcement.

Maine bill signed: Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) signed a bill Tuesday that makes substantial changes to the state's health insurance market. Critics say it's a giveaway to the insurance industry — if so, it might be a short-lived one. One of the bill's prominent opponents says some of its provisions conflict with the federal healthcare law. Healthwatch's Sam Baker has the story.

Sebelius in Switzerland: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained at the World Health Organization why the U.S. has introduced a resolution to retain smallpox virus stocks at the two official repositories in the United States and in Russia."By retaining stocks of the virus in highly-secured locations, we'll be able conduct that research, and the results will be made widely available," Sebelius said in a press statement. "Let me be clear: we are committed to the eventual destruction of the virus stocks. But we also believe this Assembly should authorize continued research to develop the countermeasures needed to ensure that we’re prepared for a potential smallpox outbreak."

Vaccine shortage:
Republicans called for the government to put in place a process for faster drug approvals during emergencies. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) during a committee hearing said some vaccines during the H1N1 flu pandemic could only be made available under an "emergency use authorization," which he said the Health and Human Services Department was too slow to issue. Healthwatch has more.


Wednesday's agenda:

The fifth meeting of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues begins in New York City. The agenda is here.

The Justice Department's reply brief is due in the 26-state lawsuit over healthcare reform's individual mandate. The case is pending in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Brookings Institution holds a half-day panel discussion on health information technology, featuring an update on an HHS program that funds health IT improvements in 17 cities.


Lobbying registrations:

Dumbarton Group / Innovatix (group purchasing services)

Holland & Knight / MorseLife (geriatric long-term care facility)

South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association

The Ingram Group LLC DBA The FIRST Group / Hospital Corporation of America 


Reading list

Time digs into the controversy over drug companies buying doctors' prescribing data for marketing purposes.

The Health Affairs blog gets into the weeds on ACOs and shared savings.

Pharmalot covers the implications of a recent Supreme Court decision on lawsuits involving vaccines.

The Huffington Post says enrollment is still low in healthcare reform's early retiree reinsurance program.

Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) took some heat over the GOP's Medicare proposal during a town hall in his district, the local Fox affiliate reports.

Similarly, one of Rep. Allen West's (R-Fla.) town halls reportedly "devolved into a shouting match" over Medicare.


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

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

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