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House Uses Medicaid-Rebate Bill To Offset Medicaid/Medicare Package

The House is using Medicaid-rebate legislation, introduced Dec. 4 in the Senate, to pay for a bill that combines a handful of Medicaid and Medicare bills from the past two years, according to legislation on the House floor schedule for the week of Dec. 10.

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Senate Finance Committee Ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (OR) called on CMS Thursday (Dec. 6) to “be straight with the seniors about all of their health care options” amid concerns from some beneficiary advocates that the agency is favoring Medicare Advantage over traditional Medicare.

FDA’s Bob Temple, a drug center veteran of 46 years, will soon become senior advisor for the Office of New Drugs’ Immediate Office -- becoming the center’s point person on medical decisions that are controversial, complex or critical, center director Janet Woodcock said in an internal email on Friday (Dec. 7).

Congress’ Medicare payment advisers discussed possible 2020 pay for a wide range of providers at their December meeting Thursday and Friday (Dec. 6 and Dec. 7), including draft recommendations to tie some hospital pay to the advisers’ Hospital Value Incentive Program, but the commissioners plan to look again at what to pay long-term care hospitals in January as they didn’t agree on whether to provide LTCHs a pay increase in 2020.

Industry lawyers expect more in vitro diagnostic test makers to apply for CLIA waivers thanks to newly issued FDA guidances that make the process less prescriptive and clarify that tests for which trained and untrained users get comparable results are entitled to a waiver.

Thirteen Democratic senators are urging FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to take stronger steps to prevent and reduce youth use of e-cigarettes by including mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes among the types of products that would require stricter age verification and sales practices.

Congressional Medicare advisers said Thursday (Dec. 6) that Medicare spending on drugs doctors administer is growing fast, and on the same day, CMS actuaries said Medicare retail drug spending growth has slowed.

Through its new real-world evidence framework, FDA will evaluate how RWE can be used to support changes to labeling about a drug or biologic product’s effectiveness.

A Maine judge on Thursday (Dec. 6) set a new deadline of Feb. 1 for the state to adopt regulations to begin enrolling people in Medicaid expansion, essentially guaranteeing that outgoing Gov. Paul LePage (R) will not have to take any further steps to implement the voter-approved expansion law he has blocked for more than a year.

Spending on health care grew at a slower rate in 2017 than in 2016 in part because Medicaid spending slowed due to the lull in Medicaid expansions and drug spending growth slacked off following the spike in spending to treat hepatitis C, according to the CMS actuary’s office.