KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Senators Aim To Defy Odds With Bipartisan Medicare Reform Efforts

Lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee are setting their sights on making changes to Medicare -- even if it means expanding aspects of the Affordable Care Act during an election year. In other news from Capitol Hill, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has concerns about possible ties that experts on an advisory panel have to the pharmaceutical industry, and the Senate HELP Committee will mark up medical innovation bills.

The Hill: Senators Try For Bipartisanship On Medicare Reforms
The Senate Finance Committee is trying to do something a bit rare in an election year: legislate in a bipartisan way on a wonky but important issue. The project is to improve the way Medicare covers people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s, so as to improve the coordination of care and bring about healthier outcomes at lower cost. At a hearing last month on failures of nonprofit “co-op” health insurers set up under ObamaCare, which featured some of the predictable partisan battles, Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the committee, pointed to the chronic care project as a hopeful sign of things to come, working with the chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). (Sullivan, 2/8)

The Associated Press: Senator Scrutinizes Pharma Links On Government Pain Panel
A high-ranking Senate Democrat is scrutinizing links between pharmaceutical companies and government advisers who recently criticized efforts to reduce painkiller prescribing. Sen. Ron Wyden says he has a "number of concerns" about how panelists were selected and screened for an advisory panel on pain issues that includes government experts, outside academics and patient advocates. Wyden's inquiry follows a recent Associated Press story that found nearly a third of panelists at a December meeting of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee had apparent financial ties to painkiller manufacturers, including the maker of OxyContin. (Perrone, 2/8)

Morning Consult: First Round Of Medical Bills To See Committee Votes
The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will on Tuesday begin its piecemeal approach to medical innovation legislation. Seven bipartisan bills are on the markup agenda, the first of three batches the committee will examine between now and April. This is the approach Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) decided to take after failing to come to a bipartisan consensus with ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on a broader bill. (Owens, 2/8)

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