Healthcare News May 24, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Senate vote set for FDA bill

    The Senate is slated to vote Thursday on a must-pass Food and Drug Administration bill after reaching an agreement on amendments Wednesday afternoon. The Senate will debate and vote on 17 amendments — including the perennial issue of importing cheaper prescription drugs from other countries. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sponsored the “reimportation” amendment, which the pharmaceutical industry strongly opposes. And though it’s a frequent talking point for many Democrats, including President Obama, career scientists at the FDA have long been wary of reimportation.

    The House version of the FDA bill is also ready for a floor vote, and House Republicans have said they want to get a final bill to the president by July 4. The bill would reauthorize user fees that the FDA collects from drug and medical device companies. The fees are set to expire at the end of September, but lawmakers are hoping to wrap up most of their work on the FDA bill before the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and reopens a bitter partisan divide over healthcare policy.

  • Study: Most individual insurance plans fall short of health law’s standards

    Most people who buy their own health insurance would get a much more generous policy under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new study published in Health Affairs.

    Most individual policies today fall short of the ACA’s most basic standards, the study said. That means many consumers will get more benefits and will likely face lower out-of-pocket costs — but premiums could rise as a result.

    People who buy health insurance on their own typically pay higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs than people who get their coverage through an employer. Individual policies also tend to offer less coverage and, until the ACA is fully implemented in 2014, can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    According to the Health Affairs study, even the most basic plan under the ACA’s new standards would be significantly more generous than what most people get today on the individual market.

  • Senate reaches deal on FDA bill amendments

    “I appreciate everyone’s help and it takes everyone’s help to get where we are,” Sen. Reid said.

  • Family-run health centers get $5 million in grants

    The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) announced roughly $5 million in grants Wednesday for health centers that serve children with special needs and their families.

    The money, provided by the Affordable Care Act, will support Family-to-Family Health Information Centers. The centers are run by the families of special-needs children and provide counseling to other families, HHS said in a release.

    The grants will fund health centers in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C.

    “These centers provide the information that families need to make health care decisions that are right for their children,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Secretary Sebelius said in a statement. “Family-to-Family Health Information Centers are a good investment, and have a measurable and positive impact on families, and communities.”

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