OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Senate Dems take hard stance on Medicare


Medicare is the biggest obstacle to a deal on raising the debt ceiling and avoiding an unprecedented U.S. default, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee chairman offered the Democrats' toughest stance yet on the issue.

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During a conference call with reporters, Schumer said Democrats are calling on Republicans to take a dramatic Medicare overhaul "off the table" in the debt negotiations being led by Vice President Biden. Pressed on whether any Republicans involved in those talks are actually pushing for the Medicare proposal, Schumer said the GOP hasn’t given any public indication to the contrary.

If Congress is going to look to the program for savings, Schumer said, the money should come from cuts to the pharmaceutical industry, rather than benefit cuts. He cited two policies Democrats have consistently supported: price controls on prescription drugs and extended rebates for people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. The Hill's Sam Baker has the story.

Earlier in the day, five Senate Democrats sent Biden a letter urging him to take the Ryan budget off the table. Read The Hill's story.

Unsafe idea: A Republican amendment adopted last week by House appropriators could weaken efforts to protect the public from unsafe drugs, tobacco, lead-filled candy and even tainted blood, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday in several documents.

The amendment from Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) would restrict the kind of information regulators use when making their decisions. The amendment cleared the Appropriations Committee last week.

"FDA must sometimes act when there are credible risks, but before the weight of scientific evidence has been established," the FDA said in its analysis of the amendment. "This amendment would require that consumers actually be harmed before FDA can take certain actions to protect the public health."

State vs. state: The legal battle over healthcare reform's coverage mandate is often portrayed as a battle between states and the federal government. But a group of state legislators fighting the 26-state challenge to the law says it's not that simple.

More than 150 state legislators have signed a brief in Wednesday's arguments before the 11th Circuit Court supporting the requirement that most people buy insurance. Healthwatch's Sam Baker has the story.

Reassessing regulations: Significant regulations that affect the health sector should be required to produce an "innovation impact statement," the medical device industry said Monday. The proposal is among six policy initiatives put forward by the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMED). Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has the story.

Tuesday's agenda:

The Obama administration's top food safety officlal, Michael Taylor, speaks at an Ogilvy Exchange lecture.

The Institute of Medicine will release a report on the effects of climate change mitigation — steps like retrofitting buildings — on air quality and health.

And the Urban Institute holds a forum titled "Kids, Coverage Challenges and Quality Care."

Lobbying registrations

Red Maple Consulting / Solara Holdings (ambulatory surgery centers)

Capitol Hill Consulting Group / Dechra Veterinary Products USA (animal drugs)

Reading list

The Daily Caller raises questions about CBO's decision to hire an HHS official to work in its Health and Human Resources (HHR) Office.

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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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