OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Dems lay out Medicare plan in deficit talks

McKinsey has agreed to meet with the committee to explain its report. 

In a letter to global managing director Dominic Barton, Baucus requested "a full disclosure of the survey and its supporting materials, as well as answers to the following questions": Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has the questions.

House Dems get in on the act: The top Democrats on several health panels sent their own letter to McKinsey. The letter was signed by Reps. Henry Waxman (Calif.), Frank Pallone (N.J.), Diana DeGette (Colo.) John Dingell (Mich.), Sandy Levin (Mich.), George Miller (Calif.), Pete Stark (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.) and John Lewis (Ga.).

"Refusing to release the underlying questions and methodology undermines the credibility of the findings," it states. "We are concerned that, if the survey based its conclusions on a questionable instrument and potentially biased methodology, McKinsey may have provided the American public with invalid information about the impact of the Affordable Care Act."

AARP fight: The elder Americans' lobby launched a multimillion-dollar TV ad Thursday urging lawmakers to reject cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of debt ceiling negotiations. It calls for Congress to "stop spending our money on things like… a cotton institute in Brazil…poetry at zoos…treadmills for shrimp."

The ad prompted a sharp retort from the House Ways and Means Committee, whose health and oversight committees have investigated AARP's support for the law and how much the association stands to gain in royalties.

"In the ad, AARP absurdly suggests the nation's trillion dollar deficit and nearly $15 trillion debt can be solved by minuscule cuts to earmarks," the committee said on its website. "This is hard to reconcile with AARP's strong support last year of one-half trillion dollars in Medicare cuts in the Democrats’ health care overhaul."

SGR kick-off: Republican Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committee staffers met behind closed doors to start a discussion on how to overhaul the Sustainable Growth Rate formula and avoid a 30 percent drop in Medicare physician payments next year.

Home care rights: Millions of home care workers could become eligible for minimum wage and overtime pay this year as federal regulators and lawmakers seek to extend labor protections to the people who clean, cook and care for 13 million elderly or disabled Americans.

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) announced Thursday her intention to reintroduce legislation that would extend the Fair Labor Standards Act to the home care workforce; Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) is expected to follow suit in the Senate shortly. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor is working on regulations that would have the same effect. Read the Healthwatch story.

Animal antibiotics: Four senators - three Democrats and a Republican - have introduced legislation that would restrict the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. The bill comes as the House on Wednesday repealed a provision of the 2012 agriculture spending bill that aimed to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from similarly restricting antibiotic use in livestock and poultry. Healthwatch has more.

Thoughts on suicide: The U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops for the first time issued a statement on physician-assisted suicide.

Friday's agenda

Attorney General Eric Holder and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are both scheduled to speak at a conference in Philadelphia on preventing healthcare fraud.

Back in Washington, it's day three of a meeting of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics.

The Global Health Council also wraps up its annual meeting Friday.

Lobbying registrations:

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / Advanced Infusion Services (pharmacy)

Reading list

Dems hit Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty for paid speech on healthcare

The New York Times highlights the pitfalls of healthcare quality reporting initiatives

Conservative writer Josh Barro points out that even Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) plan retains Medicare for current seniors in his defense of healthcare reform's payment advisory board. 

What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Ryan open to making Medicare plan optional

Medicare sets standard for mental health centers


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

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