OVERNIGHT HEALTH: GOP not letting up on CLASS Act victory

Congressional Republicans are still taking their victory lap after the Obama administration halted work on the CLASS Act.

The GOP’s aim is clearly to leverage the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act’s failure into wider skepticism of the healthcare law, support for which has remained relatively steady since it was passed. The Republican Study Committee argued Tuesday that while the problems with CLASS were apparent from the beginning, "the forecast for the rest of Obamacare is just as uncertain."

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Healthwatch’s Julian Pecquet has more on the political firestorm over CLASS.

The administration has responded to GOP attacks by noting that although CLASS accounted for a huge share of the healthcare law’s deficit reduction, it was a self-contained program whose collapse doesn’t affect the other parts of the law. Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), an early CLASS skeptic, acknowledged as much in an interview with The Washington Post.

"This was a sidecar. This was not a core element of the overall bill," he said. "It was put in as a courtesy to Sen. [Ted] Kennedy. I do happen to think the overall bill is going to massively fail on the fiscal side and probably fail on the substantive side too. But you can separate off the CLASS Act as not having an effect on the underlying bill, even though the underlying bill will also fail."

Another debate: It’s not for lack of trying, but so far the rest of the Republican presidential field hasn’t been able to capitalize on conservative angst over Mitt Romney’s healthcare record. Romney has so far been able to get off the hook with relatively forgettable answers about the reforms he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts, and he benefited when the healthcare debate veered into squabbling between Michele Bachman and Rick Perry over an HPV vaccine in Texas.

But with Romney cementing his front-runner status, if there’s a punch to be landed, tonight’s debate might be a good time to try to land it. The candidates square off at 8 p.m. on CNN.

Tea Party priorities: A new, informal survey of conservatives' deficit-reduction preferences has some surprising results. Raising the Medicare eligibility age and cutting payments to hospitals didn’t poll especially well in a FreedomWorks survey — and those are perhaps the most politically realistic healthcare cuts on the table. The survey didn’t even ask about Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis Ryan Retirees should say 'no thanks' to Romney's Social Security plan California Governor Newsom and family dress as 2020 Democrats for Halloween DC's liaison to rock 'n' roll MORE’s (R-Wis.) plan to convert Medicare into a sort of voucher program.

Healthwatch’s Sam Baker has more on the results.

Speaking of the supercommittee: The medical imaging industry says the supercommittee shouldn’t concern itself with proposals to cut imaging payments. The projected savings wouldn’t actually materialize, the industry said in a new report. Read the Healthwatch post.

And also, still speaking of the supercommittee: One of President Obama’s proposals for healthcare deficit-reduction met renewed opposition from Congress when a bipartisan group of 50 lawmakers pushed back against his proposal to get generic versions of biologic drugs approved more quickly. Obama wants to change brand-name drugs’ market protection from 12 years to seven, which he also pushed unsuccessfully during the healthcare debate and in each of his post-healthcare budget proposals. Healthwatch has the details.

Some dreams never die: The Congressional Progressive Caucus has released its supercommittee recommendations. Progressives' plan — revive the public option. Yes, the same public option that Democratic supermajorities couldn't stomach. The caucus also suggested letting Medicare negotiate prices for prescription drugs — another idea left on the cutting-room floor during the healthcare reform debate.

Workforce: State and federal agencies need to improve their processes for collecting data about the healthcare workforce to find — and fill — areas of need, according to a new report. The study was released Tuesday by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, and says government agencies need a more evidence-based way to identify the areas where more healthcare workers are needed. Read the findings here.

Wednesday's agenda

FDA/Ag bill: The Senate is poised to continue voting on amendments to the 2012 Agriculture spending bill, which is part of a $243 billion package of appropriations bills including transportation, commerce and agriculture. The $20 billion agriculture spending bill includes a $50 million bump in funding for the Food and Drug Administration.

Late Tuesday, an amendment from Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (R-Maine) and Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump Poll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (D-Colo.) allowing more than two servings of potatoes and other starchy vegetables per week in school meals passed by voice vote. Also, Alaska Sens. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world MORE and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Senators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal MORE on Monday introduced legislation to protect wild salmon from contamination by genetically modified salmon, a fight they'd vowed to take up during the appropriations debate.

Medicare reform: Health Affairs co-hosts a gathering of experts on ways the deficit-cutting supercommittee could save money while improving patient care in Medicare.

Misleading marketing: The Center for Digital Democracy is expected to file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accusing a leading food and beverage company of engaging in "unfair and deceptive practices through campaigns involving the use of video games, virtual reality, viral marketing, personal data collection, and other technology" to target children. The group will simultaneously release a report on "digital marketing tactics routinely used by fast food, snack food, and soft drink companies."


State by state

Kentucky's Democratic attorney general says there's no point joining the 26-state lawsuit against healthcare reform now that it's already headed to the Supreme Court.

New Jersey doesn't do enough to detect improper Medicaid billing and root out fraud in the program, according to reports from the state comptroller.

Arkansas' Medicaid director is resigning.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed a bill Tuesday that ends retiree health benefits for future state lawmakers.


Reg watch

The FDA extended the comment period regarding the burden of food-safety bill fees on small businesses.


Bill tracker

Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Kentucky Democrat: McConnell's agenda driven by 'power without a purpose' MORE (D-Ky.) introduced legislation to exempt insurance agent and broker fees and commissions from the healthcare law's medical loss ratio calculation (H.R. 3183).

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) has a bill creating grants for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator training in public elementary and secondary schools (H.R. 3189).

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) dropped legislation raising Medicare payment for colorectal screenings and waiving cost-sharing requirements. (H.R. 3198).

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) has a bill that would restore state authority to waive for certain facilities the 35-mile rule for designating critical access hospitals under the Medicare program (H.R. 3212).

Rep. Dan BenishekDaniel (Dan) Joseph BenishekRepublican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds Tea Party class reassesses record Michigan Republican to retire MORE (R-Mich.) would establish an ophthalmologic service and director of ophthalmologic services in the Veterans Health Administration. (H.R. 3216).

Rep. Larry BucshonLarry Dean Bucshon Trump unveils plan to help kidney patients in push to lower health costs House Republican: Disclosing drug prices in TV ads 'doesn't help the consumer very much' GOP lawmaker has 'a lot of concerns' over coverage if ObamaCare is overturned MORE (R-Ind.) has a bill to strip health law regulations of the mandate for insurers to turn over claims data for purposes of risk adjustment (H.R. 3218).


Fraud fight

An Alabama woman pleaded guilty to two tax fraud and identity theft conspiracies after admitting that she filed more than 500 fraudulent returns that sought at least $2.5 million in Medicaid refunds.

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The operator of an Indiana transportation service for Medicaid patients was charged with healthcare fraud for allegedly inflating his bills.


Lobbying registrations

Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates / International Myeloma Foundation

Myriad Genetic Laboratories (self-registration) / development and marketing of molecular diagnostics

Patriotic Consulting Services / Hospital Alliance of New Jersey

Alston & Bird / Healthways (disease management company)

Urban Swirski & Associates / CHG Healthcare Services (provides healthcare providers to hospitals and other healthcare organizations)

Washington Strategic Consulting / Hudson Valley Hospital Center


Reading list

Hospital visits for heart attacks are down sharply, The Wall Street Journal reports.

But overall emergency room visits are up sharply, according to Modern Healthcare.

The Los Angeles Times reports on the Commonwealth Fund's healthcare report card. (The U.S. got a D.)

Newt Gingrich was once a vocal supporter of end-of-life counseling, which he now decries as a "death panel," The New Republic says.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

CMS to scrap healthcare regulations, says hospitals will save $1B

Pediatricians push for broad definition of "essential benefits"


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

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

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351


Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch