OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Health stakeholders craft supercommittee pitches

Not your grandfather’s healthcare plan: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised that grandfathering would be the next big fight over the healthcare reform law, and the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee will make that dream come true tomorrow.

The subcommittee will hold a hearing on regulations issued under healthcare reform, specifically grandfathering and the medical loss ratio. Subcommittee Republicans are floating a bill to repeal the Department of Health and Human Services’s grandfathering regulation and block the agency from imposing any requirements on grandfathered plans.

Subcommittee Democrats are holding a prebuttal right before the hearing to “stand in fierce opposition to Republican attempt to repeal Patient’s Bill of Rights.”

Background on the hearing and the grandfathering bill can be found here.

Planned Parenthood vs. Rick Perry: Planned Parenthood Action Fund released a new Web video Wednesday that attacks Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell for their records on women’s health. Perry, a contender for the White House in 2012, was campaigning in Virginia on Wednesday. You can watch the video here.

Repeal loses steam: So says a new Bloomberg poll. It found that only 34 percent of Americans favor repealing Democrats' healthcare reform law, down from 41 percent six months ago. Forty-eight percent believe that "it may need small modifications, but we should see how it works." Only 12 percent want to leave the law alone.

Accreditation: The Public Health Accreditation Board on Wednesday launched the first national accreditation program for all public health departments.

Kids' caucus: The Congressional Children’s Caucus officially launched Wednesday, with help from the advocacy organization First Focus. The bipartisan caucus is starting off with 40 members.

HIV caucus: A separate bipartisan health caucus will launch Thursday. Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) will be the three co-chairmen of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus.

Thursday's agenda

- CMS is making a Medicare announcement at 11 a.m.

- America’s Health Insurance Plans begins a two-day conference on insurance exchanges. Thursday’s schedule includes several sessions focused on coordination with state Medicad programs.

- Speaking of two-day meetings, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission is also starting one off Thursday. On the agenda: alternatives to the sustainable growth rate formula for paying doctors.

- Several Bush administration officials, including former HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, will discuss the success of Medicare Part D at a forum hosted by the Hudson Institute.

- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation hosts a “Care About Your Care” event at the National Press Club. Speakers include health IT coordinator Farzad Mostashari and Carolyn Clancy, the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

- And Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, speaks at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

State by state

Non-implementation update: Medicaid directors from Republican-led states reiterated Wednesday that they aren’t moving too enthusiastically to implement healthcare reform. They discussed implementation during a conference sponsored by America’s Health Insurance Plans.

“We are looking at a health exchange; I think originally that was a Republican idea, that’s more of a free-market approach … but ultimately we have to let the courts decide, so we’re taking a very slow approach to any implementation of it,” said Gary Alexander, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

Pennsylvania also isn’t big on an expansion of Medicaid.

“Quite frankly, we have enough to do to handle the mess that we have,” Alexander said. “I think the feeling is that any expansion at this point in time is going to explode the state budget.”

Tennessee Medicaid Director Darin Gordon offered a slightly less political take, but said the state isn’t in a rush to set up its own exchange either.

“We do not believe we can make the decision on what we’re going to do on [an] exchange until we see all the rules,” he said, adding that he means final rules — not proposed regulations.

Regulatory review

Medicare fraud: Vice President Biden on Wednesday announced billions of dollars in savings from waste, fraud and abuse.

Drug safety: The Food and Drug Administration requested greater authority from Congress during a Senate hearing Wednesday on the safety of the nation's drug supply chain. According to PharmTech, the FDA's head of global regulatory operations and policy asked for the authority to: 

• promulgate enforceable standards for a national track and trace system; 

• refuse products from a foreign manufacturer who has refused or delayed an inspection;

• issue mandatory drug recalls; and

• require drug manufacturers to report to FDA drug shortages, contamination, and cargo thefts. 

PharmTech has more.

Rapid response: The FDA announced the creation of a new response network to "effectively and rapidly" address foodborne illness outbreaks. The Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network will involve epidemiologists, veterinarians, microbiologists, environmental health specialists, emergency coordinators and risk communications specialists all working together as a team.

Fraud fight

Pennsylvania recouped $49 million in a drug price settlement with Aventis, Bayer, Schering and Pfizer. The four companies are accused of artificially inflating drug prices in order to increase sales and profits.

A Virginia woman was convicted of fraudulently billing Medicaid nearly $1 million.

A New York pharmacy paid nearly $250,000 to resolve a Medicaid fraud case involving the misdeeds of a former pharmacist.

Lobbying registrations

Capitol Associates / The Lifecare Group (construction/development of rural healthcare facilities)

Arnall Golden Gregory / Revance Therapeutics (biopharmaceutical company)

B & D Consulting / PhRMA (integrity of the pharmaceutical supply chain)

ML Strategies / Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

ML Strategies / Amedisys Home Health Service (home health services / chronic care management)

ML Strategies / International Stem Cell Corporation

Reading list

The Kansas City Star says it was threatened with a fine by HHS after using a public database to report on doctors with a history of malpractice accusations. Read the letter here and the original story here.

The threatened fine — and HHS's decision to shutter the database — has sparked outrage among journalists' groups and consumer advocates.

Democrats are vowing to pursue their attacks on Republicans' vote to overhaul Medicare after their losses in two special elections.

Presidential candidate and Texas Rep. Ron Paul's 2008 campaign manager died penniless and uninsured, Gawker reports, just as Paul suggested Monday should happen to people who forgo insurance.

Congressional Democrats are blasting a proposal in the president's jobs bill to tax wealthy Americans' health benefits, Bloomberg reports. The Hill first wrote about the provision on Tuesday.

What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Reports detail state-by-state impacts of proposed Medicaid cuts

News bites: Obama upsets Democrats, CBO testifies before the supercommittee and unethical research gets aired out 60 years later

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

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

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