OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Supercommittee lobbying intensifies

With the deficit-cutting supercommittee ramping up its search for more than $1 trillion in federal savings, healthcare groups are still pressing hard to get their top priorities in front of the 12-member panel.

The American Medical Association, after previously urging the supercommittee to tackle a permanent (and expensive) fix to Medicare's payment formula, urged the panel Tuesday to include tort reform in its recommendations. The AMA, along with 98 other medical societies, sent letters to the supercommittee urging to impose caps on jury awards in medical malpractice suits.

Separately, a coalition of 20 medical specialty groups urged the supercommittee on Tuesday to scrap the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) — a controversial panel created by the healthcare reform law. The IPAB is itself a cost-cutting mechanism: Its purpose is to recommend cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, which will take effect automatically unless Congress blocks them.

The specialty groups argued that if Congress is going to repeal the IPAB eventually, it will only be more expensive later.

Read the Heathwatch posts on the AMA's letters and the IPAB reistance.


New ads: Nursing homes launched a new round of ads in the D.C. media market Tuesday in their effort to ward off further cuts from the supercommittee. The American Health Care Association's latest campaign focuses on the roles nursing homes play in rehabilitation and other post-acute settings. The spot is online here

ADVERTISEMENT
Medicare abuse: Building on a GAO report that found widespread "doctor-shopping" in Medicare, a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday pressed for tighter oversight of beneficiaries who abuse prescription drugs.

“Aside from our financial imperative, we have a moral imperative to ensure that our public healthcare system isn’t used — or misused — to further intensify and subsidize a public health crisis,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said.

Read the Healthwatch story.

Spending bills move ahead: The top appropriators in the House and Senate conferred Tuesday morning and are moving closer to agreeing on a framework for wrapping up the 2012 spending bills.

The phone call between House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) came on a day when the House approved a six-week funding measuring giving Congress until Nov. 18 to dispose of 12 appropriations bills or — again — risk a government shutdown.

Read The Hill's coverage.


Wednesday's agenda
The House Education and Workforce Committee's Workforce Protections panel holds a hearing titled "Workplace Safety: Ensuring a Responsible Regulatory Environment."

The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and Health Affairs hold a Capitol Hill briefing on "Personalized Medicine: From Promise to Practice." The briefing features a panel of experts who will discuss regulatory and reimbursement issues surrounding the use of molecular diagnostics as well as some of the ethical dilemmas facing genomic testing.

Twelve congressional Republicans are holding a press conference to show off 1.6 million petitions calling for the repeal of the healthcare reform law.


State by state

Nebraska won't set up an insurance exchange until the Supreme Court rules on the healthcare law's individual mandate.

ADVERTISEMENT
Utah is making doctors aware of the incentives for adopting electronic health records.

Hospitals in Tennessee are teaming up with churches to deliver healthcare.


Regulatory watch
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the deadline for submitting Bundled Payments for Care Improvement letters of intent and applications until Nov. 18. The initiative seeks "proposals from health care providers who wish to align incentives between hospitals, physicians and nonphysician practitioners in order to better coordinate care throughout an episode of care."

The FDA has created a website where it will post guidance documents the Center for Devices and Radiological Health is considering for development.

The Center for Medicare Rights applauded new reposed rules for Medicare Advantage and the Part D prescription drug benefit.

"The rules strengthen CMS's oversight ability and raise the quality bar by, for example, allowing the agency to terminate plans with consistently poor performance," center President Joe Baker said in a statement.


Reading list
The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff writes that the Department of Health and Human Services won't spell out a list of "essential benefits," as some stakeholders have feared.

A primary-care doctor muses on how he was driven out of the profession by America's "fast food" medical care system.

Brain-injury physician Ford Vox warns against doctors getting too involved in political activities.

Gary Schwitzer blasts pharma-funded journalism workshops.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Local health departments slashing programs, workforce

News bites: Doctors rationing care


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

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

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