OVERNIGHT HEALTH: HHS moving quickly on key regulations

Its letter was also signed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American Geriatrics Society, the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the Medicare Rights Center.

Speaking of cuts: Is the ACA still on the defunding block, despite President Obama’s reelection and the even larger Democratic majority in the Senate? Possibly. Lobbyists and Republicans have raised the idea of tapping into the law’s premium subsidies as part of an end-of-year fiscal agreement that will require deep cuts somewhere in the budget.

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Supporters of the health law say there’s no way Obama would risk compromising his signature domestic achievement, arguing that any cut to the subsidies would affect enrollment and affordability. What gives the idea some weight, however, is the fact that the subsidies won’t take effect until 2014, meaning Congress could cut the money now without directly taking it out of anyone’s pocket.

Be sure to read our story on the subsidies debate.

Hospitals up, insurers down: President Obama’s reelection is good news for hospitals and bad news for insurance companies, according to the latest analysis from Moody’s. The Affordable Care Act “will have negative credit implications for insurers based mainly on the additional regulations and restrictions it imposes on insurers,” Moody’s wrote. The credit outlook for pharmaceutical companies is also negative because of rebates and taxes they have to pay, though those policies were part of an agreement that the industry proposed.

Hospitals will do better because of the ACA, Moody’s said, mostly because they’ll have more paying customers thanks to the individual mandate.

Mind the cuts: Nursing homes have launched an ad campaign urging Congress to stop the automatic cuts to Medicare contained in the sequester. The American Health Care Association (AHCA) is out with its second ad buy in Beltway publications and the major cable networks. The ads emphasize the importance of Medicare funds for its member nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities by featuring stories from patients.

"Any potential deal struck to address the ‘fiscal cliff’ must consider the impact on our residents and the much-needed access to quality care that we provide," said AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson in a statement. Read more from Healthwatch.

In tobacco news: More than 175 states have agreed to fight cigarette smuggling with a new World Health Organization (WHO) pact. The agreement, announced in Seoul, came after more than five years of negotiations and will mandate that signatories require tobacco manufacturers be licensed and that all products be trackable.

"The protocol gives the world an orderly, rules-based instrument for countering and eventually eliminating a very sophisticated international criminal activity," said WHO chief Margaret Chan. "Illicit trade is bad for health because it circumvents measures like taxes and price increases that are known to reduce demand." Healthwatch has the rest of the story.


State by state

Georgia immigration law trips up doctors and nurses

Critics say Kentucky prescription drug law has negatives

Calif. pulls $3 million in state contracts from mental health group


Lobbying registrations

Crossroads Strategies / Takeka Pharmaceuticals America


Reading list

Modern Healthcare finds that the number of large health-record breaches is down this year [reg. req'd].

The Los Angeles Times takes an in-depth look at the rising trend of prescription overdoses.

The New York Times reviews the latest Alzheimer's research, which has discovered precursors to the disease at earlier ages.

Lance Armstrong cut his Livestrong ties to save donations, Bloomberg reports.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

House will defy ozone treaty, allow sale of asthma inhalers

News bites: It's about Florida


Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

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

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

Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch

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