Sunday, August 02, 2009

Weekend Update / Miscellany

On Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a 31-28 vote cleared for floor consideration its version of the House health care reform bill (HR 3200). According to Modern Healthcare,
The deal, offered in a series of amendments, would ensure that public plans compete with other plans on a level playing field, allow the CMS to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, and help lower premiums and increase subsidies for working families.

In addition, the bill's public plan would use a drug formulary to control prices, and pharmacy benefit managers would be subjected to additional transparency requirements. * * *

A bipartisan amendment that would establish a 12-year patent exclusivity period for follow-on biologic products was approved, although [Committee Chairman Henry] Waxman didn't support it.

The Committee rejected also by a 31-28 vote a a Republican amendment that would have opened the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to the general public. The Chairman declined to consider on procedural grounds a proposed amendment that would have required all elected federal officials to participate in the public option created by the bill.

On the Senate side, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus advised that September 15 is the deadline for reaching agreement on a bipartisan measure according to a Politico report. "Baucus is also working to bring several governors to Washington next week to discuss the impact of expanding Medicaid on state budgets, according to a congressional source."

While the House has recessed for the month of August, the Senate will be in session for another week to consider Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination and the cash for clunkers extension. Kaiser Health News reports that the House majority and minority leadership sent their respective members home with talking points.

The Speaker's talking points build on her recent attack on the health care industry. The Politico reports that

“The glory days are coming to an end for the health insurance industry in our country,” Pelosi told reporters Friday afternoon.

“This is about inoculating against misrepresentations and educating about what is in the bill,” she said. “We all want bipartisanship…but you’re either with the insurance companies or you’re for something new.”

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