OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Cain endorses healthcare 'replace' plan

Cain's endorsement wasn't the only piece of healthcare news in the debate. Assailed like never before by his opponents, former Gov. Mitt Romney acknowledged that he "didn't get the job done" lowering citizens' healthcare costs with his 2006 Massachusetts health law. More on that here.

AARP lobbies supercommittee: AARP urged the congressional supercommittee Wednesday not to cut Medicare or Medicaid, saying the proposals on the table wouldn't do anything to tackle the real drivers of healthcare spending. It also said raising the Medicare eligibility age would increase healthcare costs by $2,000 per year for people who aren't yet eligible for the program.

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The seniors' lobby also opposes proposals to add co-pays or otherwise make seniors pay for more of their Medicare benefits.

"Such cost shifting undermines current and future beneficiaries’ access to quality care; it does not rein in overall health care costs; and it fails to improve health care quality," AARP wrote in a letter to the supercommittee.

Generics for all: The top House Democrats dealing with trade issues wrote to the government's lead trade negotiator on Wednesday urging him to embrace quick access to generic drugs in the pending Asia-Pacific regional trade agreement.

The letter to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk comes as the U.S. embarks on the ninth round of negotiations regarding the nine-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership. It urges Kirk to adopt generic-friendly policies that would limit a brand-name manufacturer's exclusive marketing rights based on clinical trial data to five years, running concurrently with such protections in the U.S. Read the Healthwatch post.

Abortion fight shifts to Senate: Groups opposed to abortion rights are pressuring the Senate to act on a bill passed by the House last week that would prohibit health insurers from offering abortion coverage if any of their customers receives federal subsidies. 

In a new message to supporters, Americans United for Life (AUL) cautioned that passage of the Protect Life Act is less likely in the Senate. The memo also drew attention to Democratic senators' effort to derail a House investigation into Planned Parenthood. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has more.


Thursday's agenda

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will make a healthcare reform law announcement. On the call with stakeholders will be administrator Don Berwick, Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare Jonathan Blum and Richard Gilfillan, acting director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

Consumer advocates will get a chance to meet with the Department of Health and Human Services about essential health benefits. Providers held a closed-door meeting with department officials earlier in the week.


State by state

A judge has ordered Kansas to restore federal family planning funds to a clinic that claims it suffered "collateral damage" from a new state law aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood.

A bill to require that defendants in sexual assault cases get tested for the virus that causes AIDS is on its way to the Pennsylvania state Senate for its consideration.

ProPublica looks into Gov. Jerry Brown's decision to veto a bill extending the life of California's nursing board.


Fraud fight

A Food and Drug Administration chemist pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and one count of making false statements in a $3.7 million insider trading scheme that spanned nearly five years. Cheng Yi Liang, a chemist since 1996 at the agency's Office of New Drug Quality Assessment, has admitted to using inside information about drug applications to trade stocks.


Reading list

Modern Healthcare is out with its 2011 list of best places to work. Topping the chart: physician staffing company Weatherby Healthcare of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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Senator slams companies on sports helmet claims.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Consumer groups file complaint against PepsiCo over teen marketing

Senate adopts "flexible" nutrition standards for school meals

Congressman blasts health law regulatory 'debacle'


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