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September 25, 2003 | Daily News

The Medicare conference will not reach an early agreement on provider issues, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) told Inside CMS after President Bush called the conferees to the White House today (Sept. 25) to urge them towards a successful conclusion to negotiations on a prescription drug bill.

"It's got too many facets to deal with in a finite way," Thomas said, noting that payments to insurers were in the mix of provider issues along with hospital and physician reimbursement. "That's part of the mix going forward."

September 23, 2003 | Daily News

The House Ways and Means Committee's top Democrat today (Sept. 23) urged lawmakers to take steps outside of the bogged-down Medicare conference to lower drug costs, touting a bill to remove the corporate tax deduction for direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements that do not show the benefits and risks of medications in a "fairly balanced manner."

September 19, 2003 | Daily News

A group of Senate lawmakers are poised to press Senate leaders to strengthen the chamber's language on Medicare's cost contracting program.

Medicare cost contract plans -- HMOs reimbursed for the actual cost of care -- serve roughly 340,000 Medicare beneficiaries and are slated to expire at the end of next year. The Senate bill would extend the program through 2009 and apply Medicare+Choice (M+C) standards and protections to the cost contract program.

September 16, 2003 | Daily News

The American Medical Association (AMA) has joined with a professional society advocating a switch to a new coding system for diagnosis and billing and the corporation that developed the new coding standard to advocate specific legislative language on the issue for the Medicare conference report.

September 16, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees are heading towards a compromise on specialty hospitals that stops short of the Senate bill's ban on physicians referring patients to new, so-called boutiques hospitals in which they have ownership stakes but goes beyond the House bill's call for further study of the issue, Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) told reporters today (Sept. 16).

Breaux, the author of the ban on physician self-referral, said he would accept a modification of his proposal but indicated some of it would survive conference.

September 15, 2003 | Daily News

Congressional Medicare conference negotiations have turned back to drug patent reform issues, with renewed debate over a House provision that would limit amendments and supplements to generic drug applications.

September 12, 2003 | Daily News

As Medicare conferees take up controversial home health care provisions for the first time this week, home care advocacy groups are converging on Capitol Hill and their sympathizers in the Senate are stepping up internal lobbying efforts to get conferees to oppose the home care provisions in the House bill.

Members of the National Association of Home Care (NAHC) and the American Association for Homecare held a home health lobby day on Sept. 9. Members of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America will be lobbying on home health issues later this month as well.

September 12, 2003 | Daily News

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) has initiated a new effort to pressure Medicare conferees to allow access to cheaper, price-controlled drugs from other countries, seeking signatures for a draft letter to conferees that makes the reimportation provisions a bottom line issue for future votes for a Medicare drug benefit.

September 12, 2003 | Daily News

As doubt over final passage of a Medicare prescription drug benefit percolates, advocacy groups pushing hard for drug coverage have upped the ante through vocal lobbying campaigns pressing Congress for action.

AARP members descended on Washington, DC last week to pressure Congress to "keep its promise," "finish the job" and "fix and pass" the benefit. The scene was played out at two similar AARP rallies across the country.

September 12, 2003 | Daily News

More than 100 House members this week urged their chamber's Medicare conferees to drop the House bill's cut to the hospital market basket update, emphasizing that the provision will undermine the payment boost for rural hospitals that was crucial in securing the one-vote victory margin for the chamber's Medicare prescription drug legislation.

September 11, 2003 | Daily News

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) this week backed off plans to hold controversial votes on key ideological principles dividing the two chambers' Medicare bills, but still faced renewed partisan tension over looming decisions on the private sector role in delivering Medicare benefits and Democrats' role in the negotiations.

Thomas told reporters after the conference he has no plans to hold votes on principles but will put controversial provider issues to a vote.

September 08, 2003 | Daily News

As lobbying for universal Medicare drug coverage intensifies, a key House staffer in the Medicare conference talks has floated a compromise to retain the House bill's drug coverage of dual eligibles under Medicare while moving toward the Senate's more generous subsidy of the near poor.

September 08, 2003 | Daily News

House and Senate Medicare conferees tomorrow (Sept. 9) are expected to hold a series of votes that may chart the course for future negotiations on major ideological differences between the rival Medicare prescription drug bills and resolve contentious provider issues, including how to set payments for rural physicians and hospital reimbursements, according to industry and congressional sources.

September 04, 2003 | Daily News

In an unexpected move, the final price tag of a Senate provision to provide short-term Medicare coverage of certain self-injected drugs and biologicals has more than tripled, increasing the obstacles to securing the measure in Congress' final Medicare bill, health care observers say.

September 03, 2003 | Daily News

Three pharmacy trade groups are lobbying conferees charged with crafting a Medicare drug benefit compromise to strip Senate-passed language that would set up a one-year FDA pharmacy compounding advisory committee. The groups argue that state boards, not FDA, should examine compounding safety issues.

September 03, 2003 | Daily News

House and Senate GOP leaders of the Medicare conference will try tomorrow (Sept. 4) to kick start faltering talks aimed at reconciling rival prescription drug bills amid expectations that President Bush will up the pressure on conferees to come up with a compromise bill this session.

August 29, 2003 | Daily News

Oncologists are mounting increased pressure on Medicare conferees to radically scale back proposed cuts in drug reimbursement even as CMS last week put forward a proposed revision to the Average Wholesale Price (AWP) reimbursement system that heightens pressure on cancer physicians to reach a deal with the conferees.

August 28, 2003 | Daily News

A push to change the Medicare coding system in a way that facilitates higher reimbursement for new medical technologies and procedures remains on the agenda of House Medicare conferees despite a tentative deal with their Senate counterparts that struck the provision from the conference report, industry sources said.

August 27, 2003 | Daily News

Key pharmacy groups and certain drug manufacturers have teamed up to lobby Medicare conferees to ensure adoption of the Senate Medicare bill's non-mandatory language on electronic prescribing, after it is modified to include safeguards against interference with prescriptions and choice of pharmacy, Inside CMS has learned. The move comes as more than 40 medical groups have voiced opposition to compulsory electronic prescribing in the House Medicare bill, stating that it would represent an "unfunded mandate" on physicians.

August 26, 2003 | Daily News

Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) this week pulled his staff out of the Medicare conference out of frustration that House staffers have refused to schedule talks to reconcile the competing bills' rural health provisions.