Health reform implementation

OVERNIGHT HEALTH: WH starts weeklong reform rally

Pence under fire: Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the lead proponent for defunding Planned Parenthood, is taking heavy criticism from abortion-rights groups after telling a radio station that he “never advocated reducing funding for Title X” family planning. Pence sponsored legislation that would bar Planned Parenthood from getting millions of dollars of Title X funding, and he voted for House Republicans’ stopgap budget bill for the rest of the year, which eliminates funding for the program.

No conflict for states taking money: David Rivkin, the outside lead counsel for the 26 states involved in a federal lawsuit challenging healthcare reform, says the states’ acceptance of implementation funds doesn’t undercut their opposition to the law. 

“If a given state wants to continue complying with ObamaCare and receiving the money, that is appropriate in terms of both not impairing the ability to challenge it and in terms of the federal government to give out the money to states,” Rivkin said during a Cato Institute event on Monday.

Rehberg wants CLASS probe: Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) wants to know whether the Department of Health and Human Services knew the long-term insurance program created by healthcare reform was unsustainable before the law was enacted. He’s asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to provide information about actuarial models conducted by the department before the law was enacted. Read the Healthwatch story.

HHS sets quality plan: HHS released a National Quality Strategy (NQS), required by healthcare reform, on Monday. The first year of the NQS describes a broad plan, but healthcare reform requires the department to eventually set agency-specific quality benchmarks.

The strategy sets several priorities: reducing harm caused in the delivery of care; engaging patients and families in care; promoting effective prevention and treatment; working with communities to promote best practices; and developing and spreading new affordable healthcare delivery models.

Generic drugmakers warn of CR cuts: Across-the-board budget cuts to the Food and Drug Administration office that approves generic drugs “could significantly impair the ability of the agency to approve generics” and end up costing taxpayers and the government billions, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association writes in a letter to House and Senate leaders and the White House budget director, Jacob Lew.

“We are working with the FDA and Congress this year on the development of a generic drug user fee program,” GPhA Vice President John Coster writes. “This program will provide private-sector funds to supplement federal appropriations to help reduce the backlog of generic drug applications, and to assure the more timely approval of generic medications. However, significant cuts to the OGD program at this critical time would be devastating to millions of consumers, employers and other payers that rely on the timely approval of generics to help better manage their healthcare costs.”

Report says no effect on jobs: A new report from the Urban Institute says healthcare reform will have “no noticeable effect on net levels of employment.” The widely panned “employer mandate” will have little effect because most firms with 50 or more employers already offer private insurance in accordance with federal standards, the organization said.

New look for innovation center: CMS launched a new website on Monday for the $10 billion Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. The center, created by the healthcare reform law, is asking for feedback on ways to improve the healthcare system for Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries. The new website:

Tuesday’s agenda:

The party goes on: The healthcare reform battle is front and center again on Tuesday, a day before the one-year anniversary of the law. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) is hosting a rally with community groups back in his district. On Capitol Hill, the Heritage Foundation and the National Federation of Independent Business are teaming up to discuss the law’s impact on business.

Administration reaches out to seniors: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is meeting with Pittsburgh seniors to discuss how the law benefits them. Kathy Greenlee, who heads the Administration on Aging, will discuss the law with Alliance for Retired Americans members in Bridgeton, Mo. Meanwhile, senior groups will hold 18 events in 15 states.

Reading list:

Vermont state legislators are set to begin debate on a single-payer healthcare bill, the Burlington Free Press reports.

The Washington Post Fact Checker blog looks at some questionable claims from Democrats about healthcare reform. 

A new poll finds that, while Democrats’ top concern is healthcare, that issue doesn’t even crack the top five for Republicans, USA Today writes.

Georgia lawmakers are making numerous efforts to block healthcare reform, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Abortion battles are springing up in numerous states, CBS News reports

Friday’s Congressional Budget Office score of the president’s budget hiked the cost of healthcare reform by $40 billion, The Wall Street Journal highlights.

Lobbying registrations (since Friday):

Hogan Lovells US / VitalWear Inc. (durable medical equipment)

PKDorn and Associates / Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation of Kansas (Department of Defense analysis and research)

What you might have missed on healthwatch:

North Dakota joined the list of states asking for a waiver from healthcare reform’s medical-loss ratio requirements.

Healthcare advocates are hoping for a broad package of “essential health benefits.”

There will be plenty of fights over healthcare reform provisions in the year ahead. 

Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

Julian Pecquet: / 202-628-8527

Jason Millman: / 202-628-8351

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