Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 22, 2014

July 21, 2014

Measuring Federal Research Performance

Medical research accounts for a large portion of federal research activities and spending. A recent Senate hearing examined broad issues relating to all federal research programs.

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Obama’s Snack Comments Upstage White House Nutrition Dinner

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The president gets a cone at a shop in St. Paul, Minn., in June. He went “off message” about ice cream during a White House event on school nutrition standards. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

First lady Michelle Obama is battling GOP congressional appropriators over possible changes to her effort to overhaul nutrition standards in the federal school lunch program. Roll Call’s Cady Zuvich reported on the recent “Kids’ State Dinner” at the White House, which touted the new USDA school nutrition standards:

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Virgin Islands’ Exemption From Health Care Law Prompts Alaska Plea

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Murkowski. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Last week, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner released a letter to a Virgin Islands official releasing U.S. territories from insurance requirements mandated by the 2010 health care overhaul law. On Friday, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski weighed in the matter.

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New Bills: Contraceptive Services and Breast Cancer Detection

Last week’s Senate vote on a measure intended to roll back the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision prompted new legislation seeking to secure access to contraceptive services from New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, plus a bill offered by Illinois Democrat Richard J. Durbin that would confirm recently announced Obama administration guidance on employee notification of omitted contraception coverage.

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Medical Record Rules: GOP Lawmakers Concered About Role of HHS Office

Today marks the deadline for comments to a Department of Health and Human Services proposed rule allowing health care providers some flexibility on implementing the use of electronic medical record requirements and extend a second stage of requirements through 2016. You can comment on the proposed rules through this link.

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July 18, 2014

Military Cigarette Discounts Get Sen. Durbin’s Attention

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Durbin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators this week approved their version of a fiscal 2015 Defense spending bill. While the measure includes Pentagon health program spending, the bill also focuses lawmakers’ attention on specific health concerns for military personnel. The Defense Subcommittee chief, Illinois Democrat Richard J. Durbin, urged the Pentagon to implement a provision that would eliminate military commissary discounts on cigarettes, in a effort to reduce tobacco-related illnesses.

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Medicaid: Wide Variations Among States Continue

The Medicaid program, which is managed by the states with federal funding, has always had a wide variation of coverage. Various demographic and political factors have set the different state programs apart. The Government Accountability Office this week released a review of Medicaid enrollee spending differences between the states.

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Energy Xtra, CQ Roll Call’s Latest Policy Blog

Another blog joins CQ Roll Call’s Policy Pulse roster: Energy Xtra, written by Randy Leonard, a longtime reporter on energy and environment issues. The blog will touch upon numerous topics of interest to Healthopolis readers, including scientific research, air quality and environmental policy.

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Workweek Threshold Bill in House Gets Adjusted Estimate From CBO

House Republicans have led a long effort to repeal or at least change elements of the 2010 health care overhaul law. Earlier this year, amid concerns about unemployment, the House passed a bill that would adjust the workweek threshold for employer-sponsored health care coverage.

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By Paul Jenks Posted at 11:15 a.m.
Insurance

A Reminder for Companies That End Contraceptive Services Coverage

The Senate on Wednesday did not advance a predominantly Democratic-led measure that would roll back the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision on contraceptive services coverage for “closely held” companies.  On Thursday, the administration quietly offered its own response through a joint agency update to a series of Department of Labor guidance notices on the ongoing implementation of the health care overhaul law.

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By Paul Jenks Posted at 9:24 a.m.
Contraceptives

July 17, 2014

Final Medicare Payment Rules Loom

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has sent the White House the final payment rule proposals for fiscal 2015 Medicare provider payments for skilled nursing, psychiatric and inpatient rehabilitation facilities.

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Report Wonders: Where is the Patient Deluge?

One of the most widely accepted expectations of both proponents and opponents of the 2010 health care law was that health care utilization rates would increase as newly insured persons sought treatment options. However, a report this week from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Athena Health Research does not show a deluge in new patients.

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War Is Hell, the 2014 Version

Beyond the well-reported traumatic brain injuries and loss of limbs, this generation of war veterans is facing other conditions that reflect the way the fighting has occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan. Skin cancer, epilepsy, sleep disorders, hydrocephalus and chronic pain disorders are some of the afflictions noted by a Senate report.

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FDA Lab With Smallpox Vials Had Other Dangerous Biological Agents

The Food and Drug Administration lab on the NIH campus where six vials of smallpox were discovered also had biological agents causing such diseases including dengue, influenza, Q fever, and rickettsia, government officials have disclosed.

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Anthrax Incident at CDC: ‘Insufficient Culture of Safety’

A recent incident during which workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were potentially exposed to anthrax is part of a larger pattern of “an insufficient culture of safety,” Director Thomas R. Frieden told a House committee.

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