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Congress

August 07, 2007 | Daily News

Calling the current state of the Native American health care system "an outrage," Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) last week announced a September markup for long-lingering legislation reauthorizing a funding increase for Indian health programs. The proposal-- dubbed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA)-- would allow greater numbers of Native Americans to access Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

August 06, 2007 | Daily News

A group of Illinois lawmakers has joined several other stakeholders and patient advocates in prodding CMS to place an increasingly common hospital-acquired infection on its list of conditions that may no longer receive increased Medicare reimbursements under the agency's proposed inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS). The lawmakers say CMS' plan to exclude methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from the list sidesteps a major quality issue facing hospitals and threatens the health of many Americans.

August 03, 2007 | Daily News

Lawmakers and industry stakeholders are assailing an unexpected provision of the House-passed Children's Health Improvement and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act that limits the growth of physician-owned hospitals and restricts the amount of investment by physician groups or individual physicians. Proponents of the bill say it protects the Medicare trust fund by easing the growth of specialty hospitals that they believe drive up the cost of Medicare through overutilization. Opponents say the severe restrictions could lead to the demise of the industry.

August 03, 2007 | Daily News

The Senate on Thursday (Aug. 2) easily approved a five-year, $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) financed with a dramatic hike in the federal tobacco tax, but Senate support could unravel if House Medicare reforms financed through deep cuts to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are added in conference. Despite vehement objections from a number of conservative Republicans, the measure passed 68-31, after which Democratic and GOP Finance Committee leaders promptly urged President Bush to rethink his veto plans.

August 03, 2007 | Daily News

The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday (Aug. 2) to approve a $1.7 billion spending package for FDA and move forward with a plan to allow drug imports. That plan, along with spending levels higher than President Bush's budget request, has prompted Bush to threaten a veto. The bill also blocks FDA's plan to close its regional labs and prevents FDA from allowing qualified health claims on functional food.

August 02, 2007 | Daily News

In a move that is set to infuriate big pharma, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced legislation Thursday (Aug. 2) that trumps CMS' controversial definition of average manufacturer price (AMP) and requires prior authorization of brand-name drugs that have generic alternatives in Medicaid.

Prior authorization of branded drugs is expected to boost the use of generics and result in huge savings to the Medicaid program.

August 02, 2007 | Daily News

Makers of radioactive drugs are urging lawmakers to adopt the House's version of user fee legislation which gives a bigger reduction on fees for drugs used in diagnostic imaging. Until this week, staff from the two chambers were working long hours doing the spade work for lawmakers who plan to confer on the bills.

The Council of Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals (CORAR) says it is talking to Reps. Bart Gordon (D-TN) and House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

August 02, 2007 | Daily News

House Democrats slipped an amendment to block FDA lab closings into an FDA spending bill pending on the floor Thursday (Aug. 2). The spending package approved by the Rules Committee for floor action adopts several amendments, and limits floor debate to 12 others.

August 02, 2007 | Daily News

House and Senate staff negotiations on FDA legislation are off through August, and a key Senate negotiator of the health committee's biogenerics bill is signaling he would prefer the measure be left out of the final FDA Revitalization Act. House and Senate lawmakers recently decided not to name conferees prior to recess, and calling off even staff negotiations may further delay the bill's passage.

John Ford, senior counsel for public health on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent out an e-mail Tuesday (July 31) saying staff-level conference talks have been suspended.

August 01, 2007 | Daily News

The House is still planning to take up FDA spending legislation Wednesday (Aug. 1), after a protracted squabble over CMS bills delayed the proceedings. The bill was on yesterday's calendar, but Republicans mired it in a back-and-forth on procedure, Medicare Advantage and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

The House took up SCHIP Wednesday morning, and is expected to make its way back to the agriculture spending bill by afternoon. Majority leader Steny Hoyer (MD) cut off Tuesday's debate shortly before 8 p.m., nearly four hours after it began.

August 01, 2007 | Daily News

The Senate health committee passed legislation Wednesday (Aug. 1) that would let FDA regulate tobacco. But several Republicans said they were unhappy with the bill, and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) plans to introduce an alternative bill, although the ranking Republican on the committee already has already introduced competing legislation.

August 01, 2007 | Daily News

FDA is proposing to use private labs for routine testing of food imports at the same time it is trying close over half of its own labs, according to internal agency documents. In the past the agency has let importers use private labs after FDA blocks their shipments based on FDA's own inspections, but the proposed pilot would push even those initial FDA inspections to private labs. Key House Democrats told FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach Tuesday (July 31) they worry the agency is giving private parties work that has been done by labs slated for closure.

August 01, 2007 | Daily News

The House Rules Committee early Wednesday morning approved for floor action a revised version of the Way & Means SCHIP/Medicare bill, including a new provision that would sunset state SCHIP enrollment bonuses at the end of fiscal 2013 and another that would bump the Medicaid rebates owed by branded pharmaceuticals to 22.1 percent. The proposal hit the House floor Wednesday morning -- with only two hours of debate allowed, split between leaders of Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce.

July 31, 2007 | Daily News

House Democrats plan to significantly scale back Medicare payments to physicians starting in 2010 to ensure that the Children's Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act, which may hit the floor later this week, complies with pay-go rules, two well-connected Washington sources say. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that $76 billion of the cost of the Ways & Means Committee's bill is not offset by corresponding revenues or cuts to other parts of the program.

July 31, 2007 | Daily News

A coalition of Democratic and Republican senators today described the children's health care bill being debated this week on the floor as a fragile compromise that could deteriorate if provisions of the much larger House package leak into it during a conference committee, assuming the House bill wins passage and the Senate approves the version before it -- two outcomes that Democrats are banking on.

July 31, 2007 | Daily News

House and Senate lawmakers plan to put off conference on their FDA bills until after the August recess, a House Energy and Commerce spokesperson says. The delay buys more time for those pushing a biogenerics measure, but all other regulated industries wanted Congress to get the bill passed this week.

July 30, 2007 | Daily News

Key House Democrats will try to amend the FDA-spending bill when it is debated on the floor Tuesday (July 31) to block FDA from closing seven of its regional labs.

The House appropriations bill already is accompanied by report language directing FDA not to spend money on lab closures, but report language is not legally binding and many believe FDA will ignore it. Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell and oversight subcommittee Chair Bart Stupak, both Michigan Democrats, will offer an amendment that would statutorily block the lab closings.

July 30, 2007 | Daily News

E&C Dems Hint At Eliminating Oxygen, Imaging, ESRD Bundling Provisions Of CHAMP Act

July 27, 2007 | Daily News

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-MI) cut off partisan debate Friday afternoon and pledged to move a sweeping health reform proposal to the House floor, bypassing committee votes on dozens of amendments Republicans were expected to offer.

Dingell said that the proposal, dubbed the Children's Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act, would "likely" be considered on the House floor next week. During the drawn-out, two-day committee proceeding that began Thursday 11:30 a.m., lawmakers repeatedly alluded to Wednesday floor action.

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