OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Romney tackles pre-existing conditions


Healthwatch has the story on Romney’s speech.

ACA fight back in Senate: Democrats and Republicans clashed Tuesday over President Obama’s signature healthcare reform law as Democrats moved forward with a 2013 spending bill that funds it. The Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill passed out of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee by a vote of 10 to 7 with the GOP united in its opposition to increased funding for the Affordable Care Act. It heads for a full committee vote on Thursday.

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Protecting the ACA’s funding could be tricky if part of the law is struck down by the Supreme Court later this month. “We’ll just have to see what the Supreme Court decides and how that plays out. I just don’t know yet,” subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) acknowledged. He said that a decision by United Healthcare this week to keep some parts of the ACA, such as allowing parental coverage for those 26 and younger, demonstrates the popularity of at least parts of the law.

Read more from The Hill here.

PSA test furor: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) blasted the Obama administration Tuesday after a medical panel recommended that men forgo a controversial blood test for prostate cancer. The guidance was released in May by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Many experts, in agreement with the panel, say side effects from testing and treating prostate cancer tend to be riskier than the cancer itself. But Hutchison denounced the group as a "panel of bureaucrats" denying access to a vital test by "fiat."

"While the USPSTF is undoubtedly well-meaning, this decision is clearly misguided and could have a devastating impact on lives," she wrote in an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle. "Whether or not to test is a judgment that should be made on an individual basis."

Healthwatch has the story.

Growth seen for MA plans: Enrollment is up and premiums are down for private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, which cover about one-fourth of Medicare's beneficiaries, according to a new report. The 2010 healthcare law contained cuts to Medicare Advantage that were strongly opposed by Republicans and insurance companies. The program offers care to seniors through private insurers that contract with the Medicare agency. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that this year, enrollment in the program grew by 10 percent — jumps were seen in all but two states — and that the average premium paid by enrollees dropped by $4.

The program now covers more than 13 million beneficiaries, or 27 percent of the Medicare population, the report stated.

Read more at Healthwatch.


Wednesday's agenda

The Senate Special Committee on Aging will examine advanced-illness care in a hearing. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) will serve as chairman.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will speak at a community event on Capitol Hill. The evening Q&A will be held at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital.

The American Academy of Pediatrics will hold a Capitol Hill briefing on immunizations and their importance for the world's children.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will begin its general meeting in Atlanta. The event will include a discussion of religious freedom — sure to refer to the Obama administration's birth-control coverage mandate — and will be streamed online.


State by state

In Rhode Island, lawmakers are working to bring the state's health insurance laws in line with federal healthcare reform. The Providence Journal has the story.

Teens in Alabama have the highest or near-highest levels of obesity, soda consumption and inactivity in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The Press-Register has more.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R ) signed a law banning doctors from performing abortions after 20 weeks, The Times-Picayune reports.

The largest health insurer in Massachusetts is limiting the amount of powerful painkillers doctors can prescribe at one time, Kaiser Health News reports.



Lobbying registrations

Brown Rudnick / Association for Behavioral Healthcare

Healthnets Review Services / self-registration

Dismone Consulting / McBee Strategic Consulting, Washington State University


Reading list

Former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief Thomas Scully told Kaiser Health News that Congress will likely postpone the implementation of the healthcare reform law, even if the Supreme Court upholds it. Read more here.

Researchers are warning that the increase in the use of diagnostic imaging tests such as CT scans could raise the risk of cancer. Reuters has the story.

The World Health Organization's cancer arm said that diesel fumes cause cancer, The Associated Press reports.

Ethan Rome with the advocacy group Health Care for America Now writes not to be "fooled" by insurance companies' announcements that they will preserve some protections from the Affordable Care Act, no matter how the Supreme Court decides. His opinion piece is at the Huffington Post and The original story — that UnitedHealth Group, Aetna and Humana will all preserve portions of the law — can be found at Reuters.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Report: Medicaid costs squeezing state budgets


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Elise Viebeck: eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523

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