Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 1, 2014

July 31, 2014

Taxes on Health Care Providers Are Bigger Chunk of Medicaid Funding

A Government Accountability Office report released on Tuesday examines states’ increasing reliance on taxes on health care providers to help cover Medicaid spending.

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Contraception Coverage Decision Applies to the Feds, Not the States

The venerable Congressional Research Service, which advises Congress on a wide-range of major policy issues, recently issued a report for lawmakers on last month’s Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which struck down the health care overhaul law’s contraceptive services coverage requirements on “closely-held” companies.

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Congress Presses FDA on Sunscreen; Surgeon General Warns on Skin Cancer

The House earlier this week quietly passed by voice vote a bill that would streamline the Food and Drug Administration application process for sunscreen ingredients. The measure sets a specific timetable to review applications.

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Medicare Payment Quirk Grabs Senate Panel’s Attention

Senators on Wednesday mulled the impact of a restriction in Medicare payment policies that has riled both hospitals and patients. When a Medicare patient stays in a hospital under “observation status” the person does not qualify for certain Medicare coverage in a subsequent stay in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility — and may end up paying more in co-payments and drug costs.

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By Paul Jenks Posted at 10:10 a.m.
Hospitals, Medicare

Veterans’ Health Bill Sails Toward Passage

The Senate today is expected to overwhelmingly approve a compromise veterans’ health bill, clearing it for President Barack Obama’s signature. The measure would provide $10 billion for non-Veterans Affairs health care services to veterans’ who cannot schedule appointments at a veterans’ medical center and offers $5 billion to the VA to hire additional staff and upgrade facilities to meet demands for health care.

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July 30, 2014

Powered Wheelchairs: CMS Expands Payment Scrutiny

A trial program that requires prior-authorization before payment for power mobility devices, or powered wheelchairs, will be expanded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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By Paul Jenks Posted at 10:05 a.m.
Medicaid, Medicare

CDC Ramps Up Ebola Response

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its monitoring of the possible transmission of the deadly Ebola virus to travelers arriving from West Africa. CQ Roll Call’s Tom Curry reports that the CDC has issued a Health Alert Notice to doctors and nurses to inquire about travel histories of people who have recent traveled to West Africa.

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July 29, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness Has Bipartisan Appeal

It’s difficult to find common ground on many major legislative topics between Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fl., and Renee Ellmers, R-N.C. However, health topics can be a unifying force in Congress.

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By Paul Jenks Posted at 3:50 p.m.
Cancer

CDC Updates Stats on Low Teen Cancer Vaccination Rates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently sounded an alarm with new statistics about the low rate of vaccination of teenagers against human papillomavirus. The health monitoring agency noted that teens are getting the HPV cancer vaccine at a lower rate than other vaccines.

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Drug Naming Process Gets New Scrutiny From FDA

488548259 web 445x296 Drug Naming Process Gets New Scrutiny From FDA

(Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued a notice seeking comments on the process of naming prescription drugs, particularly drug manufacturers’ desire to reserve a specific name for a drug product.

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By Paul Jenks Posted at 10:30 a.m.
Pharmaceuticals

Medicare Trustees Report Extends Trust Fund Solvency

The trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds on Monday released their annual report. The trustees projected that due to lower health care spending the Medicare hospital inpatient trust fund will be depleted in 2030, four years later than estimated last year.

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July 28, 2014

Al Franken Looks Forward to State Fair Food; Don’t Count on Lots of Healthy Options

451864696 445x297 Al Franken Looks Forward to State Fair Food; Don’t Count on Lots of Healthy Options

(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Congress is preparing to begin its annual August recess at the end of the week. For many lawmakers, it means a trip to the state fair. Al Franken is ready.

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New FDA Food Labels: $2 Billion on the Line?

The Food and Drug Administration earlier this year proposed changes to nutrition information labels included on most packaged food products. The agency has extended the public comment period until Aug. 1 on the proposed label rules.

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Retiring Appropriator Seeks to Steady Medical Research Funding

harkin 253 072414 445x296 Retiring Appropriator Seeks to Steady Medical Research Funding

Harkin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Labor-HHS-Education spending subcommittee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is retiring at the end of the year. Ahead of his departure, the Iowa Democrat has introduced a bill that seeks to steady medical research funding for the National Institutes of Health.

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Veterans’ Health Bill Compromise Set After Weekend Talks

A compromise struck by House and Senate negotiators on Sunday on veterans’ medical care legislation would provide $15 billion in up-front emergency funds to help ease lengthy wait times at VA medical facilities, according to plan summary obtained by CQ Roll Call.

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