OVERNIGHT HEALTH: IPAB in the crosshairs

Claim reviews: The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that it is amending healthcare reform regulations that give patients the right to appeal claims or coverage denials. The new rule gives states until Jan. 1, 2012, to transition, among other changes.

Gene patenting? Patent legislation that's expected to clear the House this week could allow the patenting of human genes, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) argued on the House floor Wednesday.

Slaughter said the bill jeopardizes the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits health insurance companies and employers from discriminating based on genetic information. The bill, which Slaughter calls her "greatest legislative accomplishment," became law in 2008.

Healthwatch’s Julian Pecquet has more.

A bipartisan Medicare bill (seriously): Separate from all the talk about major changes to Medicare, Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperGOP chairman probes Pruitt’s four email addresses Watchdog requests probe into relationship between top EPA aide and man investigating him Overnight Finance: Wells Fargo could pay B fine | Dems seek info on loans to Kushner | House to vote on IRS reform bills | Fed vice chair heading before Congress MORE (D-Del.) and Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnPension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands Paul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism Republicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks MORE (R-Okla.) introduced a bill Wednesday to fight waste and fraud in the program. The bill, which they’re calling the “FAST Act,” would heighten the penalties for fraud and promote better data-sharing among state and federal agencies.

The bill also seeks to shift toward preventing fraud, rather than tracking down improper claims once they’ve already been paid.

The National Community Pharmacists Association praised the “intent” of the bill, which also targets prescription-drug abuse.

Patient safety: HHS rolled out the last chunk of funding for its new safety initiative, called the Partnership for Patients. The first round of funding aimed to help community-based organizations partner with hospitals to help patients after discharge. The new round will go to entities that can help hospitals redesign the way they care for patients.

Read the Healthwatch story.

Thursday’s agenda

In the morning, the Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on healthcare programs and the deficit.

Later, former White House budget Director Peter Orszag will discuss various ways to slow the growth in U.S. healthcare spending. The telephone briefing is being organized by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

A new paper and accompanying briefing at the National Press Club will examine strategies to prevent childhood obesity — a major driver of health spending.

Back on Capitol Hill, a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee will hold a hearing on Alzheimer’s and global health.

And advocates for disabled patients will hold a briefing for congressional staff on the value of rehabilitation services. Among the speakers: the rehabilitation doctor who treated Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (R-Ariz.).

Recent lobbying registrations

Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart / Tiber Creek Health Strategies, Inc. (on behalf of pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo)

J M Burkman & Associates / Nulastin (skin care / military applications)

Parry, Romani, Deconcini & Symms / Pozen (pharmaceuticals)

Capitol Hill Consulting Group / Maxor (prescription benefit manager)

Travis Lucas / BCFS (health & human services delivery)

What you might have missed in Healthwatch

Bipartisan bill could encourage home-health services under Medicare

Medicare trustees criticize Ryan plan

Approps Democrat calls for food safety investments in audit’s wake

Reading list

Orszag has a paper in Foreign Affairs on cost control.

Kansas has moved quickly to implement new rules for abortion clinics, the AP reports.

California Healthline asks whether the AMA’s stance on bisphenol A — a chemical used in plastic bottles and food containers — could sway the Senate.

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