OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Dems defend Medicaid

Speaking of Planned Parenthood: State lawmakers in Texas voted to defund Planned Parenthood as part of a sweeping healthcare bill that passed the state House on Thursday. The bill also would significantly expand the use of Medicaid managed-care plans and establish new requirements for those plans. And it would establish a new board to make recommendations for transitioning toward quality-based payments.

Harnessing Medicare: The GOP's plan to replace Medicare with subsidized private insurance wouldn't just hurt seniors; it could preclude efforts to make the nation's medical system more efficient and less costly, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee said.

In a guest commentary for the Detroit Free Press, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) argues that the GOP's plan would make it impossible to harness the nation's largest source of coverage to transform the nation's healthcare system. Medicare covers more than 45 million people and accounts for 20 percent of the nation's healthcare spending.

"When it comes to rising health costs," Levin writes, "Medicare is part of the solution, not the problem."

Healthwatch has more.

AC-No? Accountable Care Organizations were designed with the goal of improving quality and lowering costs. But the Obama administration’s eagerness for major savings could stand in the way of making ACOs actually work, a large group of providers said. The American Medical Group Association wants the White House budget office to lower its projections of how much ACOs will save. Check out the Healthwatch story.

Support for NIH: A bipartisan duo — Sens. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — is asking colleagues to support continued funding for the National Institutes of Health as Congress looks toward next year’s spending bills. The two senators were circulating a “dear colleague” letter Thursday. Because the letter was still open for signatures, their offices couldn’t say how many senators signed on.

Read the Healthwatch story.

Teen pregnancy: Childbirth by teenage mothers cost the country more than $10 billion in 2008, according to data released Thursday by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The campaign, which aims to decrease teen pregnancy, said taxpayers saved more than $8 billion because of a nearly one-third reduction in teen childbirth rates since 1991.

Nursing their grievance: International medical groups are demanding a fair and public trial for 47 nurses and doctors who have been arrested after treating wounded anti-government protesters in Bahrain, a crucial Middle Eastern ally of the U.S.

Regulatory rumble: The Senate on Thursday voted down an amendment that would have required federal agencies to carefully assess the impact of proposed regulations on small businesses. Several groups, including the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, argued that the amendment from Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) could endanger the public health because it would "tie federal agencies up with litigation and busywork, thereby distracting them from their missions of protecting the American people."

Read The Hill's coverage.

Fraud and abuse: The federal government still has a ways to go to ensure the 1996 Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control (HCFAC) program is as efficient as possible in combating Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, says a new Government Accountability Office report.

Friday’s agenda
The Alliance for Health Reform will hold a briefing on preventing chronic illness.

And the pro-healthcare reform group Families USA will release a study of the costs of Republicans’ Medicare proposals in New Hampshire. The release was timed to coincide with next week’s GOP presidential debate in the state.

Recent lobbying registrations
Nathanson+Hauck / DaVita (dialysis services)
Strategic Federal Affairs / Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service
M+R Strategic Services / Novo Nordisk (diabetes care)

Reading list:

At Time's Swampland blog, Kate Pickert takes a closer look at the McKinsey study on employer-based healthcare that's been getting so much attention this week.

Healthcare blogger Merrill Goozner fires back at criticism of the Independent Payments Advisory Board, the controversial new panel that Republicans say will "ration" care.



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

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