RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 02/12/2016

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Sharp Clash over Health Care in Democratic Debate
Jonathan Cohn, HP
For the second Democratic presidential debate in a row, health care came up right away. And for the second debate in a row, what followed was a serious, substantive discussion that put the different perspectives of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton into sharp relief. In the end, their big dispute wasn't really over whether a single-payer system is a good idea in principle. It was whether such a system could actually work in the U.S.

Senate Dems Vow Fight over Drug Abuse Funding
Peter Sullivan, The Hill
Senate Democrats said Thursday they will seek to attach $600 million in emergency funding when the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) comes to the Senate floor after next week’s recess. Democrats said CARA is a good first step, but faulted it for only authorizing new spending, meaning that any dollars actually going out would depend on the appropriations process. They say that emergency appropriations are needed.

A Reality Check on Obama's Opioid Addiction Plan
Dylan Scott, Stat
President Obama wants to spend $1 billion over two years to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic. That’s a big commitment, and many in the addiction field are highly encouraged. But for the plan to make a dent in a crisis that’s now killing nearly 30,000 Americans a year, it will have to overcome several big hurdles.

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Finance Committee's Chronic Care Policy Options
David Introcaso, THCB
On balance, the Committee’s effort should leave Medicare stakeholders cautiously hopeful. While some of the proposed options are obvious and incrementally beneficial, others might aid in innovating care delivery and in advancing CMS’s efforts to improve quality and value payment.

Other Priorities Enter Zika Funding Debate
Wasson, et al., Bloomberg
The Obama administration gained an important new ally Thursday in its push to get more funding to prevent an outbreak of the Zika virus -- the top Senate health appropriator, Roy Blunt of Missouri. But even as the administration’s pleas for Zika funding become more urgent, the debate could get gummed up in a broader push for funding on several other high-profile issues.

Zenefits Helped Brokers Cheat on Licensing
William Alden, Buzzfeed
A secret software program inside Zenefits made it seem that brokers were completing a legally required 52-hour online training course and led them to certify under penalty of perjury that they had actually done so.

Troubled Theranos Faces Washington Reckoning
Darius Tahir, Politico
The potential failure of such an influence-stuffed company has industry analysts worried. A failure of Theranos, they say, could dampen regulator and investor enthusiasm for innovative health care companies — meaning that more solid companies get additional burdensome scrutiny.

CMS Finalizes Rule on Medicare Overpayments
Virgil Dickson, Mod. HC
The rule, first proposed in 2012, alarmed many healthcare organizations when the CMS floated the idea that providers would be liable for returning Medicare overpayments going back as far as 10 years. The American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals criticized the proposal at the time, saying the time frame was unreasonable. In response to these objections, the CMS said the period will now be six years.

Pharma Wants Pressure on Indian Drug Makers
Ed Silverman, Pharmalot
Specifically, the pharmaceutical industry wants India to remain on what is known as the priority watch list of countries singled out for practices that are both favorable and unfavorable to American companies. The list is maintained by the US Trade Representative and updated in a report each spring (this is the 2015 report).

More Young Breast Cancer Patients Getting Gene Test
Amy Norton, HD
A growing number of young women with breast cancer are being tested for the BRCA gene mutations that substantially raise the risks of breast and ovarian tumors, a new study shows. Researchers found that of nearly 900 women who developed breast cancer at age 40 or younger, most had undergone BRCA testing within a year of their diagnosis.

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