MASSDEVICE ON CALL — House Democrats took to the podium this week to point the finger at the GOP for trying to censor Democratic efforts that are critical of Republican Medicare reform.
Democrats say the Franking Commission, which oversees member mailings, blocked communications that weren’t favorable to the GOP’s 2012 budget plan.
Democrats called the Franking Commission’s actions "blatant and transparent censorship."
"I’m not allowed to refer to changing Medicare to a voucher system, even though [Budget Committee Chairman Paul] Ryan [R-Wis.] himself referred to it as a voucher system. I must now call it a premium support system," said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) during a speech on the House floor. "This censorship would make former Soviet censors blush."
Fellow Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) supported Connolly, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a release titled "Let’s be Frank: GOP’s New Message Strategy is Censorship."
"The Republican-controlled Franking Commission, which controls content of mailings from congressional offices, is now dictating that any reference to the end of Medicare be cut out from correspondence," Yarmuth said. "Whenever the word ‘end’ is used, they say we have to use the word ‘change.’ "
The Franking Commission is a bipartisan panel comprised of three Republicans and three Democrats. It’s role is to ensure that Congressional mailings are free from propaganda, Healthwatch reported.
FDA promises no retaliation
There will be no retaliation against companies who bring complaints to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, said Jeffrey Shuren, director for the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the FDA.
Shuren said recent studies analyzing and criticizing the FDA’s review processes are affecting staff morale, adding that he’d rather have companies come to them directly, MedCity News reported.
"The adversarial environment in Washington is actually getting in the way” of improving practices, Shuren said.
Restaurateurs upset about doctor gift-bans
Restaurant representatives appealed to a panel of lawmakers yesterday asking them to repeal the gift-ban laws, which restrict the types of gifts that drug companies and medical device makers can give doctors, in the name of small businesses.
Senate Bill 1849, one of two gift ban roll-backs before the panel, would allow drug makers to host banquets for doctors.
They were joined by gift-ban advocates, who argue that the gift-bans protect consumers.
"[The banquets] aren’t benevolent gatherings. They’re aggressive marketing tools," Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of consumer advocacy group Health Care for All, told the Boston Herald.
Panel recommends prior approval for imaging tests
Physicians who frequently order imaging should have to get prior approval if they want the tests to be reimbursed by Medicare, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission told Congress.
The 17-member commission was almost unanimous in urging Congress to cut back imaging payments and require providers who order the most imaging tests to submit data on their orders to be compared to clinical guidelines for approval, Healthwatch reported.
LifeScience Alley adds two to board
LifeScience Alley named two industry veterans to its board of directors yesterday.
Joe Galatowitsch, CEO of consulting practice Dymedex Consulting LLC, comes to the industry trade group with 25 years of experience in marketing, market development, strategic planning and management.
Robert Kieval, founder & CTO of CVRx Inc., was development director at ProtoStar Inc. and divisional medical director at Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT).