Year ahead: Health law under attack on all fronts


Leading up to the elections, House Republicans will continue to put Democrats on the defensive as they repeal the law in bits and pieces.

Legislation to remove the long-term-care CLASS Act could get through the Senate after the administration declared the program isn’t sustainable. And a House bill to repeal the law’s independent payment advisory board, one of the few provisions to control costs, has at least 12 Democratic co-sponsors.

States will also be major players in the healthcare fight. State officials have until the end of the year to prepare for insurance exchanges if they don’t want the federal government to run them starting in 2014.

In other news, the deficit-cutting supercommittee’s failure once again paints a giant target on the backs of government healthcare programs. Lawmakers in both parties have vowed to prevent automatic cuts called for by the so-called deficit trigger, which would likely leave Medicare and Medicaid to bear a bigger share of the cuts.

2012 is also the year of the UFA, user fee agreements negotiated with industry to fund Food and Drug Administration regulators’ review of applications for new products. Deals with brand-name drugmakers (PDUFA), medical device manufacturers (MDUFA) and generic drug companies (GDUFA) are in the pipeline.

Finally, the White House will fight tooth and nail for its nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. President Obama’s first pick, Don Berwick, never even got a nomination hearing.