OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Obama officials warn individual mandate must be kept

Welcome to The Hill's evening roundup of the day's health policy news and advance look at tomorrow's schedule.

Tuesday’s health news:

Obama officials warn that individual mandate must stay: A day after a Virginia judge struck down the healthcare reform law's individual mandate, Obama administration officials warned in a Tuesday op-ed there would be "devastating consequences for everyone with health insurance" if the ruling is upheld. Fresh off healthcare reform’s first major legal defeat, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder said the individual mandate is key to holding down healthcare costs. http://bit.ly/hfVv9D

Appeal won’t skip Fourth Circuit: The administration will appeal the district court ruling to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said in a Tuesday afternoon statement. Some Republicans, including incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) had called on President Obama and Holder to fast-track the appeal to the Supreme Court. http://bit.ly/gAawRx

Repealing mandate as deficit cutter:
Trying to drum up support for repeal, the office of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) circulated an old Congressional Budget Office report outlining how much the individual mandate costs. According to the June CBO report, the individual mandate would cost the federal government $202 billion between 2014 — when the requirement becomes effective — and 2019.

The penalty for not buying insurance — $695, or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater, starting in 2016 — would bring in about $17 billion over the same period, the CBO said. http://bit.ly/fPujuz

Little input on new regs: Most of the 18 federal rules issued since healthcare reform was enacted in March did not allow much chance for public comment, according to a new Congressional Research Service report. In 12 of those cases, public comment was accepted only after a preliminary regulation was adopted. 

The report also found the reform law did not require many of the regulations, but said the federal agencies were within their right to use rulemaking to accomplish statutory objectives. http://bit.ly/fNPqm8

Momentum on their side: The National Federation of Independent Business thinks reform opponents now have some momentum heading into Thursday oral arguments for a 21-state lawsuit which they joined. The federal court in Florida is expected to rule by early next year on the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
“I think it’s a positive that we got this ruling yesterday prior to oral arguments,” said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s legal foundation. “Any time a judge feels that he isn’t out on his own if he’s to rule in our favor, the better.” http://bit.ly/gbSvlw

Pharmacists’ lawsuit dropped: The trade groups representing pharmacists and chain drug stores announced Tuesday they reached an agreement with federal authorities on a motion to dismiss their three-year-old lawsuit over Medicaid reimbursements. http://bit.ly/hm6gfr

Managing multiple chronic conditions: HHS on Tuesday unveiled a new plan calling for increased collaboration between government agencies and the private sector to tackle the growing challenge of people with multiple chronic conditions. More than a quarter of all Americans suffer from several chronic conditions, while treatment of those patients takes up 66 percent of the nation’s healthcare budget, HHS said. http://bit.ly/g6Jumo

Repeal committee announces staff director: Gary Andres was named staff director of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, giving him a leading role in efforts to repeal healthcare reform. Andres, a former White House staffer under President George H.W. Bush, currently serves as vice chairman of public policy and research at the lobbying firm Dutko World Wide. http://bit.ly/ePtL5v

Baby boomers benefit most from reform: Baby boomers, who have some of the highest unemployment rates and have difficulty affording healthcare, will especially benefit from the reform law, according to a new report from the pro-reform Commonwealth Fund. About 95 percent of 8.6 million uninsured adults ages 50-64 will benefit either from expanded Medicaid coverage, the ability to buy subsidized private insurance through new insurance exchanges or new consumer protections, the report said. http://bit.ly/eTap4Z

Improper Medicaid payments: About 20 percent of Medicaid claims for personal care services — $787 million in all — were improper in fiscal 2007, according to a new Office of Inspector General report.

Youth drug use on the rise: While high school seniors are smoking cigarettes less frequently, their marijuana use has gone up, according to a new National Institute on Drug Abuse survey. The report found that 21.4 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the past 30 days, while 19.2 percent smoked cigarettes. It also found that 16 percent of eighth graders said they used an illegal drug in the past year, up from 14.5 percent in 2009. http://bit.ly/4ziAlk

Emergency preparedness funds threatened: Major improvements in public health emergency preparedness over the past decade are threatened by severe budget cuts as a result of the recession, according to a new report. Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., cut public health funding between fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010, with 18 of those cutting funding for the second-straight year, the report said. http://bit.ly/gKBe2u

Moving payment from volume to value: A new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation policy brief highlights different approaches to implementing a payment system that encourages higher-value healthcare. The brief analyzes reform law provisions that call for value-based payments through the use of performance measures.

Cough medicine warning: Accidental ingestion of Tessalon (benzonatate) by children younger than 10 years of age can result in serious side effects or death, the Food and Drug Administration warned Tuesday. The drug is approved by the FDA to treat symptomatic relief of cough in patients older than 10, but the safety and effectiveness in younger children has not been established. http://bit.ly/fiPUOe 

On the agenda for Wednesday:

Funding bill awaits action: The Senate has just until Saturday to approve an omnibus bill to keep the government operating, but Republicans were outraged over the Senate bill after seeing it for the first time Tuesday afternoon. They argue that the pending omnibus bill contains more than $1 billion in funding for healthcare reform. The omnibus bill also contains a food safety bill that was originally voided earlier this month because of a technical error.

Senate Democrats were hoping to hold a cloture vote on the bill as early as Wednesday. http://bit.ly/hDIsIN

Future of conservatism: The American Enterprise Institute will highlight what issue areas the Republican Study Committee hopes to address in the next Congress. Republican Reps. Tom Price (Ga.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio) will attend.

Indian health: HHS will hold a listening session for tribal leaders to continue dialogue on implementing healthcare reform and the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.


The New York Times interviews Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) following his successful lawsuit to block the reform law’s individual mandate. http://nyti.ms/f6vDmS

Vermont's newly elected governor named his healthcare team that will try to make the state the nation's first single-payer healthcare system, the Boston Globe reports. http://bit.ly/gGAzf4

Arizona is eyeing new Medicaid cuts to help solve its budget woes, Bloomberg reports. http://bit.ly/f1JyJV

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Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com / 202-628-8527

Jason Millman: jmillman@thehill.com / 202-628-8351