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Congress

February 23, 2007 | Daily News

The nation's estimated 24,000 independent community pharmacies would be allowed to directly negotiate with insurance plans and large pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) under legislation introduced by Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). A representative from the National Community Pharmacy Association (NCPA) indicated a sister bill will soon be introduced in the Senate, possibly after the break.

February 21, 2007 | Daily News

Congressional Democrats' strategy for pushing through Medicare Part D price negotiation proposals remains unclear as key lawmakers weigh their options behind closed doors and avoid commenting publicly. Although Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) appears yet-undecided on a legislative strategy, sources with frequent access to Finance Committee staff predict his upcoming plan will not require HHS to negotiate drug prices as proposed by the House in mid-January.

February 20, 2007 | Daily News

The president's Affordable Choices Initiative and tax deduction proposal and a plan presented recently to Senate Democratic leaders from the Horizon Project -- a non-profit working group comprised of business and policy professionals -- share the same goals: to cover more uninsured, lessen health plan costs on employers, and increase quality and cost effectiveness of health care delivery. But that's where any similarity between the proposals ends.

February 20, 2007 | Daily News

Community pharmacists regained a powerful ally last week when Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) joined the chorus of industry in singing concerns that a CMS proposal to redefine the average manufacturers price (AMP) of pharmaceuticals -- and base Medicaid payments on those figures -- would threaten small and rural pharmacies as well as the beneficiaries who depend on them.

February 16, 2007 | Daily News

Top Democratic lawmakers are pushing legislation that would expand Medicaid to cover family planning options, increase funding for the National Family Planning Program and improve awareness about emergency contraception. The Prevention First Act would also require insurance companies to provide coverage for contraceptives and would ensure all federally funded programs provide medically accurate information about family planning.

February 16, 2007 | Daily News

The House Energy and Commerce Committee stepped up its inquiry into FDA's approval of the antibiotic Ketek Friday (Feb. 16) in an effort to pick up where the piqued Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) was disregarded by the agency.

Grassley has demanded since last April that FDA hand over all documents relating to the antibiotic and allow committee staff to interview anyone involved with Ketek at the agency. FDA has given Grassley's office millions of pages of documents, most of which he says are useless, and withheld crucial information FDA whistleblowers told Grassley exists.

February 16, 2007 | Daily News

House Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel (IL), joined by a bipartisan group of House lawmakers Friday (Feb. 16), unveiled a legislative plan to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) using a combination of funding hikes and tax credits. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) plans to introduce a sister bill in the Senate, Emanuel said.

February 15, 2007 | Daily News

A bipartisan group of lawmakers Thursday (Feb. 15) reintroduced legislation that would give FDA authority to regulate tobacco products and scheduled a Feb. 27 hearing, the first since 2003 on the issue. The bill is the same as the one Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and former Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) introduced in 2005.

The lobby against tobacco calls 2007 an "historic opportunity" to restrict tobacco with new regulations.

February 15, 2007 | Daily News

With the understanding Republican concerns would be allayed before the bill reaches the floor, the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday (Feb. 15) approved a bill that would ban brand drug makers from paying generic firms to keep low-cost versions of the brands' drugs from reaching the market.

February 15, 2007 | Daily News

The House labor committee Wednesday (Feb. 14) passed legislation that would guarantee employees' rights to organize and join a union, despite Vice President Dick Cheney's warning just hours earlier that the White House would veto the bill. Cheney spoke at a National Association of Manufacturers' breakfast where NAM, other industry groups and Republicans opposed the bill as "anti-democratic."

The House Education and Labor Committee passed the Employee Free Choice Act without including several Republican amendments after a heated debate.

February 15, 2007 | Daily News

A Georgia GOP senator claimed Wednesday (Feb. 14) to have struck a deal with Democratic leaders to devise a fix to the 2007 SCHIP shortfall before the end of the month. But while Democrats have vowed to prevent the deficits expected to hit at least 14 State Children's Health Insurance Programs this fiscal year, party leaders this week played down the significance of the Georgian's pronouncement, and declined to indicate precisely how -- or when -- a shortfall solution might arrive.

February 14, 2007 | Daily News

House Democrats view biogenerics legislation as a possible funding offset for expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program and are entertaining bundling the two in a budget reconciliation bill, a former House staffer says. But some supporters of the biogenerics bill introduced Wednesday (Feb. 14) argue the approach could fail, and say they know of no specific plans to pay for increased SCHIP spending with savings from biogenerics.

Democrats have yet to decide if they will do a budget reconciliation bill and all options are on the table, sources say.

February 14, 2007 | Daily News

Senators supporting legislation reintroduced Wednesday (Feb. 14) that would create a path to approval of generic versions of biologic drugs hope to attach the legislation to a must-pass drug user fee reauthorization bill.

February 14, 2007 | Daily News

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) vowed Tuesday (Feb. 13) to engage colleagues in a series of hearings this year on how to reduce the number of the uninsured, as a bipartisan group of senators sought White House support for their efforts to modernize tax rules and achieve universal coverage.

"For health care, the season of incremental change is coming to an end," he said in prepared remarks at a health policy conference in Washington, before adding: "If not immediately, then very quickly."

February 14, 2007 | Daily News

Senate health committee chair Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced Monday (Feb.12) a tweaked version of a bill they pushed last Congress that would ban the use of antibiotics in animal feed when similar antibiotics are used in humans. The revised bill offers payments to farmers to defray the cost of adopting antibiotic-free practices and provides grants to develop ways to reduce antibiotic use in livestock.

February 14, 2007 | Daily News

A lawmaker on the Senate Finance Committee pledged yesterday to reintroduce legislation that would repeal the controversial sustainable growth rate (SGR) used by Medicare to calculate physician payments, while an influential House lawmaker said he is "determined" to see the Part B mechanism scrapped, but would not commit to a specific plan until a congressional advisory panel weighs in.

House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said Democrats "are not going to wait for the next president" to act.

February 13, 2007 | Daily News

Senate Finance Committee ranking Republican Charles Grassley (IA) is angling to include his proposal for an independent drug safety office at FDA in the Senate's leading drug safety proposition while also working with an unnamed House member to introduce a companion measure calling for the independent office, Grassley said Tuesday (Feb. 13).

February 12, 2007 | Daily News

Leaders of two powerful congressional committees sent a letter to CMS Acting Administrator Leslie Norwalk Thursday (Feb. 8) demanding to know how a physician-owned hospital in Texas received a provider number and more than $4 million in Medicare funding during a congressionally mandated moratorium period on such facilities.

February 12, 2007 | Daily News

Georgia GOP Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson hope to attach to the Senate's fiscal year 2007 spending resolution a measure to patch the 2007 SCHIP shortfall by reshuffling money from states accumulating large federal surpluses over the past two years to those facing deficits before October.

February 09, 2007 | Daily News

House Government Reform and Oversight Committee leaders from both parties are seeking information on CMS oversight of Part D carriers, including details of the profits, administrative costs, negotiated price discounts, and rebates obtained from drug makers and pharmacies by some of the largest plans participating in the program. By law, plans must report the data to CMS, but other oversight agencies -- including the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office -- are not allowed to access it.

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