Healthcare Wednesday

What's in a grandfather? Turns out, it depends on whom you ask. In another reform-related squabble, the insurance industry is fighting the Obama administration over new rules for grandfathered healthcare plans, which are exempted from many of the consumer protections contained in the new reform law. Insurers want more flexibility to hike premiums and other cost-sharing measures in alignment, they say, with medical inflation. 

Meanwhile, some other powerful healthcare groups are weighing in to say that the grandfathering rules aren't strict enough. Community pharmacists, for instance, say plans should lose their grandfathered status if they encourage the use of mail-order pharmacies.

Just how contaminated is that Gulf of Mexico seafood? The White House says it's fine, but some House Democrats want a closer look. The Energy and Commerce Energy and Environment subcommittee will return to Washington Thursday to examine the safety of the seafood coming out of the Gulf in the wake of the worst oil spill in the nation's history. 


There's a reason they didn't wait until the end of their August recess: shrimp season began in Louisiana this week. 

Scheduled to testify are members of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Power move: Melissa Bartlett is leaving the Republican staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and joining the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, a source tells The Hill, where she'll be lobbying on Medicare, Medicaid and the implementation of healthcare reform. Bartlett has been with the E&C panel since 2004, according to LegiStorm.

Say what?! Roughly 20 percent of the nation's teenagers suffered from hearing loss in 2005 and 2006 — up from 15 percent just over a decade earlier, Boston researchers reported this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Some doctors suspect that the rising prevalence of personal music devices could be a factor.

In Kansas City, a shout of support for the individual mandate. "[Missouri Republican] Rep. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntOn The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst on trade deal Republicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial MORE, wants to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, including the insurance mandate. But he supports restricting insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions," the Kansas City Star notes Wednesday.

"Ah, but there’s the rub. Universally affordable care, especially for sick people, is the sweet spot of health care reform. But nearly all health policy experts think you have to swallow the bitter pill of mandated insurance purchases to get there."

Around town: The National Business Group on Health on Wednesday will release the results of a new survey revealing how big businesses are adapting their healthcare plans to the new health reform law.