KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Confirmation Hearing For CMS Nominee Set For Next Week

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a session on whether to approve Marilyn Tavenner to head the agency that controls Medicare and Medicaid.

The Hill: Confirmation Hearing Set For Top Healthcare Nominee
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing next Tuesday on Marilyn Tavenner's nomination to lead the Centers Medicare and Medicaid Services. Tavenner has broad bipartisan support in Congress. Even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has endorsed her nomination, saying he worked well with Tavenner when she led Virginia's Medicaid agency (Baker, 4/2).

The Hill: Feud Between Hospitals, Medicare Contractors Explodes Over Fraud Bill
The longstanding feud between hospitals and Medicare contractors is intensifying as a House bill proposes new restrictions on anti-fraud efforts in Medicare. Recovery audit contractors (RACs), professionals who cut mistaken or fraudulent payments from the Medicare program, are pushing back against the bipartisan Medicare Audit Improvement Act, arguing the government will forfeit billions of taxpayer dollars in improper healthcare payments if hospitals are given more leeway (Viebeck, 4/3).

In other Medicare news --

The Medicare NewsGroup: Fact/Fiction: Medicare Drug Rebates Would Kill Drugmakers’ Research And Development Budgets
According to the best available evidence, Medicare Part D rebates would not be a deciding factor in the drugmakers’ R&D budgets. Dual eligibles, prior to 2006, had their prescription drugs covered by Medicaid, the state-run health care program for the poor. Medicaid drugs were part of a government rebate program, in which drug manufacturers gave states either the best price negotiated with a private insurer or a price 23.1 percent below the average manufacturer price, whichever was lower. When the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act went into effect in 2006, dual eligibles were moved from Medicaid to the newly created Medicare Part D plans. In Part D, there is no mandated rebate (Sojerdsma, 4/2).

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