By Sam Baker and Elise Viebeck - 03/21/13 10:03 PM EDT
No 'iPhone tax': The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday said it has no plans to subject smartphones and tablets to a controversial tax in President Obama’s healthcare law. Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Investigations subcommittee this week seized on reports that the agency could extend the healthcare law's tax on medical devices to iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android devices. But an agency official assured lawmakers on Thursday that smartphones will be exempt from the tax.
Counting calories: A new bipartisan House bill would ease certain nutrition reporting requirements that the food industry says are onerous and nonsensical. The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act from Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) proposes small changes to federal regulations to allow, for example, pizza makers to provide calorie ranges for their products rather than exact counts for every possible pizza. The bill would also allow delivery-service restaurants to provide nutrition information online rather than on a menu board that would not be seen by customers. The American Pizza Community, which includes chains like Domino's, Papa John's and Pizza Hut, praised the measure Thursday as "workable" and "flexible."
'Net gain': A new report from The Urban Institute found that healthcare reform's Medicaid expansion will benefit hospitals more than harm them. Researchers studied the expected loss in private insurance dollars as newly qualified Medicaid beneficiaries switch to public coverage, which is reimbursed at a lower rate.
Using numbers from the Congressional Budget Office and its own modeling, The Urban Institute concluded that hospitals' Medicaid revenue will rise by $2.59 for every dollar lost from private coverage. The report noted that gains for hospitals "depend significantly" on whether states choose to expand Medicaid, which is optional as a result of the Supreme Court's ruling last summer and causing major fights at the state level. Read more at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which provided funding for the study.
Mental health break: Beat the odds! Try the Kaiser Family Foundation's updated quiz on healthcare reform here.
20-week ban: A proposed amendment to the Senate budget urges Congress to criminalize some abortions in the District of Columbia based on the disputed premise that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks of development. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tried to attach a similar amendment (#252) to last year's cybersecurity bill but was unsuccessful. The House rejected its own 20-week D.C. abortion ban under suspension of the rules in July. Read more at Healthwatch.
The National Association of Community Health Centers will wrap up its policy and issues forum.
Microsoft will host a roundtable on the future of HIPAA and the cloud.
State by state
Minn. governor signs bill creating health insurance exchange
McGruieWoods Consulting / Touro College and University System
Obama health law anniversary finds two Americas
FDA to issue mobile app guidance before Oct. 1, official says [free registration required]
High salt consumption tied to 2.3 million heart deaths
US TB rates reach all-time low, but resistance a threat
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