Congress Considers Medicare, FDA Proposals
The Senate Finance Committee is once again talking deficit reduction and Medicare as both houses are "poised" to pass an FDA bill.
Modern Healthcare: Baucus Questions Need For Medicare Overhaul
Slowing healthcare inflation may have removed the need to overhaul either Medicare or Medicaid as part of a grand-deficit reduction deal, according to the senior Senate Democrat overseeing federal entitlement programs. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, challenged the long-held assumption on Capitol Hill that any agreement to rein in the $16 trillion historic federal debt must include the two federal healthcare programs because they comprise more than 25% of all federal spending (Daly, 6/19).
CQ HealthBeat: Bipartisan Medicare Proposal Draws Skepticism
The authors of a bipartisan deficit reduction plan insisted that the country’s fiscal problems cannot be solved without significant changes to Medicare, but some senators expressed skepticism about their proposal. At a Senate Finance hearing Tuesday, former Sen. Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., and Alice Rivlin, director of the Congressional Budget Office in the Clinton administration, urged lawmakers to set aside partisanship and act to avoid running into "a fiscal wall" (Ethridge, 6/19).
The Associated Press/Seattle Times: Congress Poised To Pass Safety-Focused FDA Bill
A bill designed to beef up the safety of the nation's prescription drug supply is poised to pass Congress, but without a tracking system that public health advocates say is critical to weeding out counterfeit pharmaceuticals. House and Senate lawmakers agreed late Monday on compromise legislation that helps supplement the Food and Drug Administration's budget. The two chambers previously passed separate versions of the bill, which also increases safety inspections and penalties against drug counterfeiters (Perrone, 6/19).
CQ HealthBeat: User Fees Compromise Would Reduce Deficit, Get Generics To Market Faster
A final agreement on the five-year reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration’s user fee programs would reduce the deficit by $311 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That is less savings than the estimates for the House-passed and Senate-passed measures on which it is based, but still favorable enough to encourage leaders who hope to clear the bill before the end of month (Ethridge, 6/19).
MedPage Today: House Report Blames FDA For Drug Shortages
The recent nationwide shortages of critical drugs, including oncology agents, are largely the FDA's fault, according to a congressional committee report. Since Margaret Hamburg, MD, became FDA Commissioner in 2010, "the FDA has failed to ensure that enforcement and compliance activities are conducted in a manner that does not create unnecessary shortages of critical drugs," reads the report issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Frieden, 6/19).