President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform initiative, after what many had seen as a badly compromised and possibly debilitating start when the nomination of Tom Daschle as Dept. of Health and Human Services secretary crashed and burned in early February, seems to be moving forward smoothly and inexorably toward a Congressional vote before Labor Day. Daschle had seemed to be an essential lynch pin to the reform effort, combining a policy perspective remarkably close to that of the President with an undisputed ability to work closely and constructively with the Congress. But Obama recovered from the initial setback with a canny succession of key policy personnel appointments, and never skipped a beat.
The Obama administration, and advocates of major healthcare system reform, received a major boost today in the form of a joint letter (PDF) to President Barack Obama from the leaders of the American Medical Assn., the American Hospital Assn., America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Service Employees Industrial Union, promising support
As is the case every year, publication of CMS’ Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was eagerly anticipated by salivating policy wonks (mea culpa), anxious hospital managers and the people who sell to them. Add the current national economic crisis, with its impacts on capital availability and revenues, and the stakes seemed especially high this year. A major Medicare hospital reimbursement squeeze could have a chilling effect on overall hospital margins and purchasing power, and a consequent effect throughout the life sciences — diagnostics, therapeutic devices, hospital supplies and equipment.
Congress last week approved President Barack Obama’s budget, and in doing so eased the path for passage of healthcare reform, one of his administration’s principal domestic initiatives. The Senate Finance Committee is getting down to the hard work of actually writing the healthcare reform bill that will, possibly by early summer, be the focal document for debate on the issue. Building on a series of roundtable discussions with key stakeholders and months of concentrated staff effort, the committee met in executive session April 29 to begin the process of selecting among alternative ideas.
President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform effort is, at least so far, characterized by a focus on an inclusionary process aimed at consensus building. The private sector organizations that have the knowledge and experience to understand healthcare system problems and inefficiencies, and that will need to be involved in implementing solutions, are being engaged and heard (PDF) by those who are crafting the detailed legislative proposals we’ll be talking about and debating later this year. It is — at least so far — all very civilized and high-minded, and hard to criticize.
On April 3, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published a decision memorandum announcing significant easing of its coverage requirements for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) testing of solid tumors and myeloma. A minimally invasive diagnostic imaging procedure, PET uses a radioactive tracers to evaluate glucose metabolism in tumors and in normal tissue.