Week ahead: Senate checks up on exchanges

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On Tuesday, the AMA will launch its National Advocacy Conference with a keynote address from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The summit will last two days at the Grand Hyatt Washington and feature discussion of drug diversion and Medicare reforms.

Tuesday will also feature another congressional hearing on gun violence prevention, this time at the Senate Judiciary’s Constitution subcommittee. The event is likely to touch on mental health issues, a major part of the debate.

In the evening, President Obama will come to Capitol Hill for the State of the Union address. The speech is expected to touch on healthcare issues in the context of looming fiscal deadlines and the White House vow to oppose Medicaid cuts. The implementation of the healthcare reform law could also come up in the speech.

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee will hold a hearing on the flu epidemic, which began early last year and ravaged most states. Federal health officials will testify about preparedness.

The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs will look at the state of mental healthcare for U.S. veterans in a hearing, also on Wednesday.

On the Senate side Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee will examine comprehensive immigration reform, a debate that has touched on the healthcare needs of undocumented immigrants.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold an organizational business meeting Wednesday and also consider two bills: the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (PAHPA), and the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (Preemie) Act.

Rounding out the week, the House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday on Medicare physician payments. The event continues an effort to repeal Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula, unveiled by House Republicans last week.

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on progress in building the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges.

Also on Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the impacts of budget sequestration featuring testimony from the Office of Management and Budget.