OVERNIGHT HEALTH: HHS touts states' progress on exchanges

In Thursday's announcement, the department said that states can apply for grants through the end of 2014 and use funds through their "start-up year." Read more from Healthwatch.

Next week: Debate over mental health reform will continue next week in the Senate, where members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on the state of care for the mentally ill in the United States.

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The leader of the California state Senate will also visit Capitol Hill next week to pitch a $10 billion plan to overhaul U.S. mental healthcare. Darrell Steinberg (D) was the author of Prop. 63, a 2004 initiative that raised taxes on millionaires to provide funds for California's mental health system. Healthwatch has details on the HELP hearing and Steinberg's D.C. visit.

HIPAA moves forward: Health and Human Services released new final rules Thursday to implement parts of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which passed in 1996. The new regulations apply to doctors, health plans and other entities that process patients' healthcare information and have access to patients' records. They also ensure that patients can access their own records.

“Much has changed in health care since HIPAA was enacted over fifteen years ago,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “The new rule will help protect patient privacy and safeguard patients’ health information in an ever expanding digital age.”

Read the newly issued rules here.

Hospitals push for Medicare change: Hospitals in states that are not Massachusetts aren't too thrilled with a section of the Affordable Care Act that has let the Bay State's hospitals drive up their Medicare payments. Now, 20 state hospital associations and the National Rural Health Association are asking the Obama administration to propose a change in its upcoming budget request. It's all a bit complicated — Healthwatch has the details.

FTC blasts 'pay-for-delay' deals: The Federal Trade Administration (FTC) released a study Thursday that found the number of potential “pay-for-delay” settlements between branded and generic drugmakers increased from 28 to 40 in the last year, a record high since the agency began keeping records in 2003. According to the FTC, the agreements involved 31 different brand-name pharma products. The agency said the deals cost consumers and taxpayers $3.5 billion every year.

"More and more brand and generic drug companies are engaging in these sweetheart deals, and consumers continue to pay the price," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a statement. "Until this issue is resolved, we will all suffer the consequences of delayed generic entry — higher prices for consumers, businesses, and the U.S. taxpayer."

Revamping med school: The American Medical Association (AMA) announced a $10 million initiative to fund projects that enhance undergraduate medical education. Awards will go to proposals that promote team-based care and better understanding of the healthcare system and its financing, according to the announcement.

AMA President Jeremy Lazarus said in a statement that "rapid changes in healthcare require a transformation in the way we train future physicians. ... We hope to find and support proposals to develop innovative new education models that can be duplicated in medical schools across the country."


State by state

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) continues to make the case for participating in the healthcare law's Medicaid expansion.

Democrats in Indiana are pushing for the expansion.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) wants the state to do more on mental health and guns

Reading list

Wal-Mart is increasingly interested in the healthcare business, the Huffington Post reports.

Nobody wants to be on the IPAB, Bloomberg Businesswek notes.

Louisiana is about to stop covering hospice care under Medicaid.


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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


—Megan Wilson contributed.