Healthcare News February 28, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: GOP seeks to regain upper hand on health policy

    The birth-control debate isn’t going away, and Republicans are working hard this week to recapture the political upper hand.

    Ever since Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) convened an all-male panel of witnesses to testify against the contraception mandate, Democrats and their allies have been able to frame the debate around women’s health and the specific issue of access to birth control.

    The GOP is trying to refocus the issue around religion — and is enlisting the help of female critics in an effort to overcome the optics of Issa’s hearing. Three women will testify about the policy Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, and the conservative Heritage Foundation convened an all-female panel of critics Monday to make the case that the White House policy tramples on the First Amendment.

  • Conservative women opposed to birth-control mandate push to reframe debate

    “If it’s made a contraception issue, they’ll win,” GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle said Monday.

  • AMA pushes IPAB repeal ahead of House panel’s vote

    The American Medical Association reiterated its support Monday for Republican-led efforts to repeal the controversial cost-cutting board created by President Obama’s healthcare law.

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health panel is scheduled to vote this week to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The panel of healthcare experts would be tasked with cutting Medicare payments to doctors if spending rises faster than a certain rate.

    The AMA — the largest lobbying group representing doctors — said the IPAB is the wrong way to control healthcare costs. Congress, rather than an unelected panel, should be responsible for Medicare payments, the AMA said in a letter to Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), who chairs the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee.

  • Food industry rejects proposed food tax in Obama budget

    Three dozen food-industry groups wrote to congressional appropriators urging them to reject proposed food taxes in President Obama’s budget for FY2013.

    The letter was released in advance of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s testimony before the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday.

    The proposed $4.5 billion budget for the FDA includes a $220 million annual “food facility registration fee” to help the agency carry out its expanded duties under the 2011 food safety law. Industry groups say the fee on food producers, makers and distributors would be passed on to households in the form of higher prices.

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