OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Medicare showdown set for Wednesday

The Hill has more here on the state of play in the House, and here's our coverage of the Senate's budget process.

Dangerous drugs: The Supreme Court debated Tuesday whether approval from the Food and Drug Administration should preempt lawsuits over harmful generic drugs. The hour-long arguments focused on what it means for the FDA to approve a drug — whether companies have permission to sell a drug or a right to sell a drug (which would be harder for state courts to contradict). Healthwatch has a full report from the arguments.

ACO-verrated?: Are the healthcare law's Accountable Care Organizations getting too much credit? A new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association argues that ACOs are being thrown around as a way to improve "population health" — which, to doctors, generally refers to the health of everyone living in a certain geographic area. But ACOs aren't actually equipped to have substantive effects beyond the people who enroll in them, the paper argues.

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"Talking about ACOs as if they are focusing on improving population health — as opposed to improving medical care for their populations of patients — leads to a lack of clarity about what ACOs are doing about population health and may divert attention away from social and public health services and from socioeconomic factors critical to health," the article states.

Today in dental: Nine liberal senators pushed the Medicare agency Tuesday to rethink how it will implement healthcare reform's guarantee of affordable dental benefits for kids. The group criticized a recent essential health benefits rule for allowing a separate out-of-pocket limit for pediatric dental coverage.

"Such policy is in conflict with the intent of Congress to provide affordable benefits for families to access routine and necessary care, including pediatric oral healthcare," the senators wrote. "We find it deeply concerning that [Medicare officials] would allow stand-alone dental insurers to out-of-pocket limits as high as $1,000 per child beyond what the law intends families to pay for services considered essential health benefits."

FDA delay: The bottom line from a House hearing on health information technology Tuesday? Mobile app makers are impatient for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release final rules governing their industry. The wide-ranging hearing in the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology brought together several industry reps who lamented that mobile app entrepreneurs still don't know exactly how their health products will be regulated.

"On July 21, 2011, the FDA issued draft guidance," said Robert Jarrin, senior director for government affairs at Qualcomm. "It is now March 19, 2013, and unfortunately, FDA has yet to release final MMA guidance ... Mobile health app develops are left guessing about whether FDA regulatory obligations will impact their products or not."

Ben Chodor, CEO of mobile health app store Happtique, said developers are "waiting on the sidelines" as regulators finalize the regs. "From our point of view, the FDA has to release these guidelines sooner rather than later. They have to come out," Chodor said.

Read the testimony here.

Abortion and the 112th Congress: Lawmakers in the last session of Congress introduced at least 87 bills that would limit abortion rights, according to a new report from the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR). The legislation would have variously defined life as beginning at conception, repealed the healthcare law's birth control coverage mandate, and defunded Planned Parenthod, among other priorities. The CRR attributed the tide of anti-abortion-rights bills to the rise of Tea Party lawmakers and opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

"Despite some claims that the 'new' breed of conservatives eschewed social issues, Tea Party supporters tended to adopt extreme positions on issues like abortion," the report states. Read more here.


Wednesday's agenda

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold an executive session on the Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Reauthorization Act and the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on veterans' mental health. 

The House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee will hold a hearing on new technologies and their benefits for patients.

House conservatives will hold their weekly policy and politics conversation.

The Medicare NewsGroup will hold a symposium on private-sector involvement in Medicare.

The National Association of Community Health Centers will launch its annual policy and issues forum.

The SCAN Foundation will hold a panel discussion on long-term care.


State by state

Fla. senators reveal Medicaid expansion plan

Ark. Republicans seek an acceptable 'Obamacare'

Insurance exchange bill clears final hurdle in Minn.

Some states balk at enforcing health law's insurance provisions

Abortion stance tricky for some Mass. candidates


Reading list

Lots of Americans still want to repeal healthcare law

Sugared drinks tied to 180,000 deaths worldwide each year

Tougher rules advised for athletes after concussion


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Panel urges caution in testing kids' anthrax vaccines

Few confident in value of future Medicare benefits, survey finds

Bill seeks to ease Medicare audit burden

Bill would raise feds' contribution to DC Medicaid

GOP senators introduce bill to repeal Obama health law's insurance tax

Roberts's health law decision was 'sleight of hand,' says GOP lawmaker

GOP doctors vow to push healthcare repeal, warn of rationing


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Please let us know:

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

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

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