Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Update

On Thursday, the House passed House Resolution 9 with the support of all Republicans and 14 Democrats according to the Hill. This resolution, which is an internal House directive, states that "the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on Ways and Means shall each report to the House legislation proposing changes to" the Affordable Care Act. Among the topics to be considered is a permanent fix to Medicare's sustainable rate of growth formula for compensating doctors under Medicare Part B.

The Republican controlled House also is exercising its rights under the Congressional Review Act. The Harvard Law Review in 2009 published an article on the mysteries of this 1996 law. Rep. John Carter (R Tex) has introduced H. Jt. Res. 19 which if enacted by the House and Senate under expedited procedures (and signed by the President) would block the HHS rule implementing the Affordable Care Act's minimum loss ratio applicable to health insurers. The resolution has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Business Insurance reports that the newly minted House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R Mich) has sent HHS Secretary Sebelius a letter asking why the office responsible for implementing the Affordable Care Act is being shifted from her office to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "Washington observers have said the real reason for the move was to limit Republican efforts to gut implementation of the law by blocking funding for the CCIIO and preventing development of rules to implement and enforce the reform law."

The New York Times reports today that "The Obama administration has become so concerned about the slowing pace of new drugs coming out of the pharmaceutical industry that officials have decided to start a billion-dollar government drug development center [within the National Institutes of Health] to help create medicines." The action struck the FEHBlog as an Admnistration slap to the face of  the pharmaceutical industry, whose trade organization PhRMA strongly supported enactment of the Affordable Care Act. But Noooo. PhRMA issued a press release supporting the action thereby indicating industry collaboration. Quelle surprise!

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