OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Massachusetts past haunts Romney

Plans will have to offer the essential health benefits if they want access to federally subsidized state insurance exchanges starting in 2014. The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to finalize regulations next spring. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has the story.

Waivers are forever: The state of Indiana is under fire from consumer advocates for requesting a perpetual waiver from a key provision of the healthcare reform law.

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The law does allow states to request a temporary reprieve from the law's medical loss ratio (MLR) requirement, but Indiana took it a step further and asked that the provision simply not apply to high-deductible health plans. Consumer Watchdog is asking HHS to reject the request, arguing that Indiana's application is "based on state politicians' ideological opposition to health reform, not the realities of the state's health care market." Healthwatch has more.

The SGR is a cliff. Or an anchor. Or maybe a ball and chain. In any event, the Medicare physician payment system is a $300 billion drag on the U.S. economy, as three new online ads from the American Osteopathic Association will make clear starting Tuesday. The group is one of several physicians' organizations demanding that the deficit-cutting supercommittee repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate formula as part of its work.

Tuesday's agenda

The Senate Finance Committee takes up the free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama ahead of a Senate vote this week. The medical device and pharmaceutical industries have been pushing hard for the agreement with South Korea, which would eliminate tariffs on U.S. products over several years.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) visits the Heritage Foundation at noon for a speech on how the federal healthcare law is "harming, not helping, our health care system and our economy." The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee will also lay out the "possibilities and challenges" for entitlement reform by the deficit-cutting supercommittee.

The IRS holds a public meeting on implementation of the healthcare law's tax on indoor tanning services.

The Accordia Global Health Foundation hosts a congressional roundtable on "Driving Health Innovation and Leadership in Africa: A Look at Public-Private Partnerships." The program begins at 10 a.m. with remarks by Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), ranking member on the House subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights; Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) offers closing remarks at 11:45. The event will be held in Caucus Room 345 of the Cannon House Office Building.

The three-day U.S. Conference on Rare Diseases and Orphan Products begins at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Janet Woodcock, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, will be the lunchtime speaker at 11:45; National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins keynotes at 3 p.m. Here's the agenda.


State by state

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed legislation giving children ages 12 or older the power to consent to medical care involving the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

The governor also banned minors from using tanning beds.


Bill tracker

Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) introduced legislation establishing an Office of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma within HHS tasked with developing and implementing a cohesive national EMS strategy at the local, state and federal level (H.R. 3144).


Regulatory watch

The Medicare agency proposed rules revising the Medicare Advantage program (Part C) regulations and prescription drug benefit program (Part D) as required by the federal health law. 

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FDA and the Medicare agency are soliciting nominations from sponsors of innovative device technologies to participate in a pilot program that will test ways to apply for FDA approval and Medicare coverage simultaneously.


Lobbying registrations

KCI USA (self-registration) / medical device technology innovation and development

Capitol Health Group / AmerisourceBergen Corp. (pharmaceutical services company providing drug distribution services)

Melinda Mercer Ray / National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists

Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti / American Society for Radiation Oncology

Brand Law Group / Express Scripts (antitrust issues)

Podesta Group / Association of American Medical Colleges


Reading list

iWatch News investigation documents $1.9 billion in wasted federal healthcare expenditures.

States vary widely in reporting foodborne illnesses, The Washington Post reports.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

PhRMA to push trade deal across finish line

Obama administration postpones Georgia's request for health law waiver


Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

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

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


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