OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Lawmakers fight over Medicare claims

Poll shows food-safety support: Two-thirds of likely voters support additional funding for federal regulators to carry out their new responsibilities under the food-safety law that went into effect this year, according to a nationwide poll released Thursday.

The Pew Charitable Trusts commissioned the poll ahead of next week's markup of the House agriculture budget, which covers the Food and Drug Administration. The poll also found almost three-quarters of respondents felt funding new food-safety measures was worth a 1 to 3 percent increase in the cost of food. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has the story.

Drugs for all: The chairman of the Senate's antitrust panel on Thursday urged the Federal Trade Commission to pay special attention to prescription drug shortages when weighing whether to approve pharmaceutical industry mergers. Read the Healthwatch story.

About those benefits: A new Milliman report commissioned by Pfizer looks at what constitutes "typical" essential benefits, which the healthcare reform law requires insurers to cover starting in 2014.

Here's a quick summary: 

• Most employers cover hospital inpatient care, physician services, preventive care and prescription drugs;

• 99 percent of employees with healthcare coverage have a prescription drug benefit;

• Prescription drug coverage almost always includes both branded and generic medicines;

• Copayments are typical, with a median of $10 for generic drugs and $25 for brand drugs;

• The vast majority of plans provide full coverage for preventive medical services but fewer than 20 percent provide full coverage of preventive medications.

Children's hospitals fight for pediatricians: The National Association of Children's Hospitals urged the Medicaid payment advisory commission to pay special attention to policies that could help reverse the nation's dearth of pediatric specialists.

NARAL cries foul over Liu: NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan bemoaned the Senate's rejection of Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats failed, 52-43, to overcome a filibuster against Liu.

"Anti-choice lawmakers’ refusal to confirm Goodwin Liu, a distinguished law professor and champion of the constitutional right to privacy, proves that they value their extreme, ideological agenda over the priorities of the American people," Keenan said in a statement. "These politicians have taken their attacks on women’s right to privacy to a new level by denying a highly qualified and respected judicial nominee his rightful place on the bench."

Don't miss us on TV: Heathwatch writer Julian Pecquet and Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times will be interviewing Medicare administrator Don Berwick for C-SPAN's weekly interview program, "Newsmakers." The interview will air Sunday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Reading list: 

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson faces conservative criticism over his healthcare record should he run for the Senate, The Washington Post reports.

Health information technology isn't catching on as fast as policymakers had hoped, writes Reuters.

Stanford University reprimands faculty after ProPublica exposes links to drugmakers.

What you might have missed on Healthwatch: 

New HHS regs require insurance companies to disclose and justify some rate increases.

A new report proposes solutions to keep people from losing coverage as they transition between jobs or eligibility status.

Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

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

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

Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch