Senate HELP Committee Urges State Oversight of Compounding Pharmacies

After holding hearings on the fungal meningitis outbreak caused by problems of a single compounding pharmacy, Senators Tom Harkin and Mike Enzi sent letters of inquiry to state boards of pharmacy seeking further information on the matter.  The letter said “The outbreak raises serious questions about the level of oversight that a large-scale compounding pharmacy was subject to, both by state and federal regulators, and what if any additional steps need to be taken to prevent such a tragedy in the future…we write to request information regarding general oversight of compounding pharmacies in your state and what actions you have taken to address this meningitis outbreak.”  The House Energy and Commerce Committee also followed up on their hearings by asking the FDA for internal communications they say are needed to identify any possible weaknesses in the FDA’s regulatory system that can be corrected administratively or legislatively.

CBO Estimates Cost of Doc Fix

CBO released estimates showing that delaying for one year the 26.5% cut in CY 2013 Medicare physician payments would cost $25.2 billion.  However, CBO said this delay would also result in another cut of 25% in 2014 physician payments.  The ten-year cost of a payment freeze was estimated to cost $243.7 billion.

Health-Related Hearings This Week

House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health hearing titled “Examining Options to Combat Health Care Waste, Fraud and Abuse” to assess current anti-fraud measures employed by CMS and explore potential new approaches to address ongoing threats; November 28, 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.

CMS Names Medicare Quality Measurement Entities

CMS announced that three health care quality organizations have been selected to assemble provider quality reports under the PPACA “Availability of Medicare Data for Performance Measurement Program.”  Working with providers and insurers, the organizations will collect data and evaluate the performance of providers and suppliers and make public such information to help consumers to make better health care choices.

Health Legislation Recently Introduced

H.R. 6597 (TAXATION), to amend Section 5000A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an additional religious exemption from the individual health coverage mandate; BIGGERT; to the Committee on Ways and Means, Nov. 16.

H.R. 6598 (MEDICARE/MEDICAID), to amend certain requirements and penalties implemented under Medicare and Medicaid by the HITECH Act of 2009, which would otherwise impede eligible professionals from adopting electronic health records to improve patient care; BLACK; jointly, to the committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means, Nov. 16.

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