Healthcare News March 20, 2013

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Medicare showdown set for Wednesday

    The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on competing budget proposals, setting up a protracted debate over Medicare and other entitlement programs. The House will vote on several alternative budgets as it moves toward a vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) controversial proposal — including a more conservative GOP proposal that borrows Ryan’s Medicare plan but implements it more quickly.

    The battle lines were already clear as lawmakers debated a procedural motion allowing them to move on to the budget votes.

    “The majority has made clear that their vision for America is a vision that says the nation can no longer care for our seniors, that we must halt vital scientific research, and that we should let our bridges and schools crumble because we cannot afford to invest in the future,” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said.

    The House will also vote on a Democratic budget that doesn’t include any entitlement cuts, but instead aims to reduce the deficit mostly with new taxes. 

    Meanwhile, Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), are stepping up their calls for President Obama to join them in pursuing uncontroversial entitlement reforms. The new push on entitlements comes as the Senate gets closer to its own budget votes — Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday threatened to keep members in town over the weekend if they can’t come to an agreement earlier.

  • Paul: ‘Thousands of exceptions’ to ban on abortion

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he’s open to “thousands of exceptions” to a ban on abortion. 

    Paul has said he believes life begins at conception, but in an interview with CNN the Republican emphasized he is also a physician who treats each case individually.

    “What I would say is that there are thousands of exceptions,” Paul told CNN host Wolf Blitzer in response to a question about exceptions to a ban. 

    “You know, I’m a physician and every individual case is going to be different and everything’s going to be particular to that individual case and what’s going on with that mother and the medical circumstances of that mother,” he said.

  • Patient groups criticize Dem calls for Medicare price negotiations

    Patient groups and conservative activists pushed back Tuesday against renewed calls for Medicare to negotiate the prices it pays for prescription drugs.

    More than 330 patient groups, most of them state-based, wrote to lawmakers to oppose price negotiations in Medicare’s drug benefit.

    “We question the wisdom of requiring the Secretary to negotiate drug prices in a program that works well, continues to be significantly under budget forecasts, and that seniors and disabled individuals know and trust to meet their needs,” the groups wrote.

  • GOP doctors vow to push healthcare repeal, warn of rationing

    Members of the GOP Doctors Caucus promised Tuesday to back repeal of President Obama’s healthcare law at “every choke point” ahead of the fiscal deadlines now facing Washington.

    Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said the GOP should go “full monty” on full or partial repeal at every turn. He and his colleagues argued the law will harm the economy and lead to “rationing” of healthcare as it’s implemented.

    “This will structurally change the practice of medicine,” said Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), another GOP doctor. “There will be financial incentives for physician gatekeepers to actually limit care.” 

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