Week ahead: Lawmakers zero in on ‘doc fix’

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Now, panels in the House and Senate are eagerly pursuing a permanent “doc fix” and hoping to finish a package before the end of the year. Finance leaders Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wrote to providers Friday soliciting their input.

Tuesday’s hearing will focus on short-term improvements to the Medicare payment system that will ease the program’s transition out of fee-for-service and into performance-based reimbursements. Mark Miller, executive director of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, will testify.

The rest of the week will be divided between a possible Senate floor vote on Marilyn Tavenner, President Obama’s nominee to lead Medicare and Medicaid, a House vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act and a range of smaller policy events.

A vote on Tavenner would end a long nomination saga that involved roadblocks from Senate Republicans and one Democrat.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, held up Tavenner’s nomination to protest the Obama administration’s handling of the Affordable Care Act’s preventive and public health fund.

Now, senators have agreed to move forward with the nomination. A vote could come this week, but is not expected until Tuesday or later.

The House will vote on Thursday to repeal the Affordable Care Act, giving freshman conservatives a chance to officially oppose the controversial law.

Critics have slammed the House GOP for holding another repeal vote, but some say it could help leaders move a stalled bill to shore up ObamaCare’s high-risk insurance pools — a priority for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

In the Senate, the Appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Services will examine the 2014 budget proposal for the National Institutes of Health. Harkin also leads that subcommittee, which will hear testimony from NIH Director Francis Collins.

House panels are low on healthcare events for the week, with one Energy and Commerce subcommittee examining elder fraud in a hearing Thursday.

Outside of Congress, the Alliance for Health Reform will hold a briefing Monday on dual eligibles — people enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid — and the Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday will look at the Pentagon’s role in global health.

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