Week ahead: Back to the SGR

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The latest Medicare “doc fix” was negotiated as part of the deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” The move cost about $30 billion, with hospitals picking up half of the tab.

GOP leaders have vowed to protect providers from cuts as they seek to redesign the program’s flawed payment system.

“While the timing is ripe for action, we need to be sure we get the policy right. My hope is that we can put the days of kicking the SGR can down the road behind us,” said Ways and Means Health subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) in a recent statement.

Nursing home policy, health information technology standards and drug compounding will take center stage for the rest of the week.

On Monday, the American Health Care Association will report progress in reducing the use of anti-psychotic drugs in skilled nursing care centers. The group will also release data on hospital readmissions from those centers.

Tuesday will see two panels on Stage 2 Meaningful Use, sponsored by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. The group’s event will take place on Capitol Hill and address health information technology and its role in delivery system reform, as well as hospital readiness for Stage 2. 

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health will use Tuesday and Wednesday to mark-up legislation reauthorizing the Animal Drug User Fee Act and the Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act. Both expire at the end of 2013.

The panel will also mark-up a bill on the pharmaceutical distribution supply chain.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will consider ways to strengthen regulation of drug compounding in a hearing Thursday.

The issue is on Congress’s radar because of a deadly meningitis outbreak that has killed 53 people and sickened more than 700 since September.

The outbreak was caused by a negligent drug compounder, the now-shuttered New England Compounding Center (NECC), which created and shipped custom medications in large quantities.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has called on Congress to clarify its authority to regulate non-traditional drug compounders like the NECC, and lawmakers in both chambers are debating paths forward.

Thursday’s Senate hearing will feature testimony from Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, the House Small Business subcommittee on Health and Technology will consider the effects of fees levied under the Affordable Care Act.