Some GOP Lawmakers Are Shifting Focus From Medicare To The Tax Code

House Republican leaders began a series of meetings last week to sell this idea to their rank-and-file members. Also in Capitol Hill news, cancer clinics argue that Congress should have addressed the cuts they took as a result of sequestration before turning to the spending reductions' impact on air travel.

The Washington Post: GOP Moves Away From Entitlements And Toward Tax Reform In Budget Deal
With another fight over the national debt brewing this summer, congressional Republicans are de-emphasizing their demand for politically painful cuts to retirement programs and focusing on a more popular prize: a thorough rewrite of the U.S. tax code. Reining in spending on Social Security and Medicare remains an important policy goal for the GOP. But House leaders launched a series of meetings last week aimed at convincing rank-and-file lawmakers that tax reform is both wise policy and good politics and should be their top priority (Montgomery, 4/27).

The Hill: Cancer Clinics: Our Cuts From Sequester Needed Earlier Remedy Than FAA's
Congress should have addressed deep cuts to cancer clinics before tackling airline delays caused by sequestration, people at several of those clinics said Friday. Both the House and Senate have now voted to restore funding that the Federal Aviation Administration lost through the automatic budget cuts known as "sequestration." The bill is headed to President Obama's desk (Baker, 4/28).

A Friday hearing explored how Health Insurance Portability and Accountaiblity Act rules are being interpreted by providers -

Medpage Today: HIPAA Being Misinterpreted, Congress Told
Health care providers often misunderstand or over-interpret a 1996 health privacy law and as a result frequently do not share vital health information with family, caregivers, and others, lawmakers heard Friday. Some members of Congress have expressed concern that certain provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act -- called HIPAA for short -- have prevented providers from sharing information with loved ones and law enforcement that may have saved a patient's life or the lives of others. The law restricts the sharing of information in most circumstances unless the patient grants permission (Pittman, 4/26)

Also in the news, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate last week regarding Food and Drug Administration oversight of compounding pharmacies -

Reuters: Draft Bill Gives FDA Authority Over Some Pharmacies
The Food and Drug Administration would gain greater authority over pharmacies that compound sterile drugs and ship them across state lines under proposed legislation announced on Friday. The proposal from a bipartisan group of U.S. senators comes in the wake of a meningitis outbreak last fall that killed 53 people and sickened more than 700. The outbreak was linked to a tainted steroid distributed by the New England Compounding Center (Clarke, 4/26).

The Hill: Senators Push Expanded Oversight Of Compound Pharmacies
A bipartisan group of senators wants to give federal regulators greater oversight of compound pharmacies following bacterial contaminations nationwide that have killed at least 50 people and sickened hundreds more. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) released a draft bill on Friday to make the blurry regulatory lines surrounding the pharmacies more clear (Wilson, 4/26).

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