OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Medicare fight faces public test

Crossed wires: Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is still looking for the official transmission of a recent regulation from the Health and Human Services Department to the Senate. An official notice is necessary for senators to pursue a resolution of disapproval, and Enzi said he hasn't seen the notice for new rules that govern insurers' spending. HHS said it sent the notice to Vice President Biden. Enzi wrote to Biden on Monday asking him to correct the error.

The full letter is here.

Medicaid questions: The top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee wrote to governors Monday to ask for their ideas on Medicaid. The lawmakers, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), have introduced a bill to repeal provisions of healthcare reform that block states from cutting Medicaid eligibility before 2014.

“You have run a Medicaid program and are in the best position to tell Washington how to fix Medicaid,” they wrote in their letter to governors.

A copy of the letter is here.

House plows ahead: The Senate is still debating a budget outline, but the House Appropriations Committee is moving ahead with markups on its annual spending bills, using the allocations set out in Ryan’s budget. The appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Food and Drug Administration will hold its markup Tuesday. It’s considering an 11.5 percent cut to the FDA. Healthwatch has the story.

Small businesses look forward: The small-business lobby won a significant victory when Congress and President Obama repealed an unpopular tax reporting requirement from the new healthcare law. Now the National Federation of Independent Business has set its sights on the law’s employer mandate, which requires most businesses to offer health insurance or pay a penalty, as well as its tax on healthcare policies.

NFIB joined Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) Monday as he introduced a bill to repeal those provisions. Healthwatch’s Julian Pecquet has more.

Friendly fire: A prominent conservative lawyer and legal scholar took on Republicans’ medical malpractice bill in an op-ed, saying it violates House Republicans’ pledge to cite specific constitutional authority for all legislation.

The lawyer, Randy Barnett, is participating in the high-profile legal challenge to the healthcare reform law, prompting opponents of the tort reform bill to seize on his op-ed as a sign that even conservatives aren’t OK with federal limits on malpractice suits. Read the Healthwatch story.

The Congressional Budget Office released an updated analysis of the malpractice bill Monday evening. The budget office says it would save the government $57 billion over 10 years — roughly the same as previous estimates of the policy. The complete score is here.

Tuesday’s agenda
It’s a big day for food and nutrition policy. The Pew Charitable Trusts is holding a briefing for congressional staff on school lunch standards proposed by the Agriculture Department.

A multi-agency working group focused on food marketed to children will also meet Tuesday. The group recently unveiled preliminary recommendations for the nutrition content of food that’s targeted to kids. The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting is here.

And the House subcommittee markup of next year’s FDA and agriculture spending bill is slated for 4 p.m.

Separately, the National Community Pharmacists Assocition holds the second day of a three-day conference in Washington. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Reps. David Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) are scheduled to speak in the morning.

Recent lobbying registrations
Ice Miller Strategies / Novartis Corp.

Reading list
A Forbes magazine column argues that healthcare reform is working, citing the number of young people now entering the insurance market.

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who is running to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), has been campaigning on his opposition to the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Problem is, according to the Kansas City Star, he voted for it before he voted against it.

Think Progress uncovers some kind words that Newt Gingrich had for Don Berwick back in the early 1990s — before Berwick was picked to lead the Medicare agency and accused of wanting to ration healthcare.

The Associated Press describes the devastation as Sunday’s deadly tornadoes ripped through a hospital in Joplin, Mo. According to CNN, X-rays from the hospital were found 70 miles away.

What you might have missed on Healthwatch
HHS began rolling out the second round of grants to help states plan for their insurance exchanges.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is still hammering the FDA over a 2009 recall.


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Please let us know:

Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com / 202-628-8527
Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

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