KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Grassley Continues Focus On Medicare Decision Trading Probe

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, says that hundreds of people had access to information about a Medicare decision before it was announced, which triggered a spike in Wall Street trading. Also on Capitol Hill, compounding pharmacies are lobbying against pending legislation and a draft proposal on Medicare's 'doc fix' draws criticism.

The Washington Post: Hundreds In Government Had Advance Word Of Medicare Action At Heart Of Trading-Spike Probe
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Washington Post late last week that his office reviewed the e-mail records of employees at the Department of Health and Human Services and found that 436 of them had early access to the Medicare decision as much as two weeks before it was made public. The number of federal employees with advance knowledge is surely higher; the figures Grassley’s staff compiled did not include people at the White House's Office of Management and Budget who also saw the information. The e-mail records of those employees have not been made available to Grassley (Hamburger and ElBoghdady, 6/9).

The Hill: Pharmacies Say Harkin Bill Would Give FDA Unprecedented Powers
Compounding pharmacies are mounting opposition to a Senate bill they say would give the Food and Drug Administration unprecedented authority over their operations, including the power to ban hormones used to treat a wide variety of ailments. The bill, approved unanimously by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee late last month, would give the FDA increased regulatory power over compounding manufacturers who tailor drugs’ dosages or other properties to fit specific patient needs (Goad, 6/7).

MedPage Today: Wrinkles Emerge In SGR Repeal Debate
As Congress inches toward a change in the way physicians are paid under Medicare, an early-stage Republican proposal drew criticism this week for not going far enough. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) called the latest draft proposal to reform Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula "disappointing" because it mostly retains fee-for-service payments while using alternative payment models as an option to boost reimbursements. … But the latest draft, which drew the criticism of Schwartz, is "not a complete reform proposal," Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), chair of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, said (Pittman, 6/7).

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