The week ahead: Medicare proposals emerging in ‘cliff’ talks

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There appears to be some overlap, at least on Medicare, between the White House offer and conditions set by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

McConnell told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that the White House must agree to raising Medicare premiums for the wealthy and increasing the Medicare eligibility age to get Republicans to agree to more tax revenue.

The pharmaceutical industry is also gearing up for a Supreme Court case over generic drugs. The court said Friday that it will hear arguments in a lawsuit dealing with the legal recourse for people who have been harmed by a generic drug. The justices will likely hold oral arguments this spring on whether federal law bars lawsuits over defective generics.

In the Senate, lawmakers will be back at work on a defense authorization bill next week after lawmakers failed to finish on Friday. Attached to the bill is the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, a project of Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) that began nearly six years ago and would direct federal health officials to create research frameworks for the most lethal cancers.

Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act will put the cancer bill one step closer to final congressional approval.

The House could see a vote next week on a $1.047 trillion omnibus spending package if leaders give the bill a green light. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who is negotiating the package, told The Hill Friday that four or five of the 12 component bills are done.

On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will speak at the National Press Club on the need to shield Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from cuts in a fiscal cliff deal.

On Thursday, the American Enterprise Institute will host an event on conservatism in the 113th Congress that will likely turn to the Affordable Care Act. The panel discussion will feature the current and future chairmen of the Republican Study Committee, Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Steve Scalise (La.).

Jordan on Friday called for the tax increases from the healthcare law to be on the table in the deficit negotiations.

Next week also marks the beginning of two national health observances — Safe Toys and Gifts Month, encouraging awareness of toys that harm children’s eyesight, and National Handwashing Awareness Week.