Washington Health Policy Week in Review

Washington Health Policy Week in Review is a weekly newsletter that offers selected stories from the daily newsletter CQ HealthBeat.

Emergency Rooms Labeled 'Biggest Crisis in American Health Care'

Physicians told a House hearing that the nation's emergency medical care departments are overwhelmed, understaffed, underfunded, and unready to take on the type of patient surge that could come with a major natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Health Care Costs an Important Factor in Evidence-Based Medicine

Health care costs must be factored into medical decision-making in order to save money and improve quality, according to evidence-based medicine experts in a discussion posted on the Web site of the health policy journal Health Affairs. During a wide-ranging conversation, Dr. Sean Tunis, founder and director of the Center for Medical Technology and Policy in California, and Dr. David Eddy, founder and medical director of Colorado-based Archimedes Inc., discussed how the health care system is not required to take economic considerations into account when making decisions about medical coverage and about the consequences for the public--specifically a lower quality of health care--if such costs continue to be ignored.

Orszag Takes on Health Care Spending Issues with Authority

Congressional Budget Office Director Peter R. Orszag may not yet have ascended to guru status on the issue of growing health care costs, but that wasn't necessarily apparent from persistent questioning he got from members of the Senate Budget Committee at a hearing on soaring health care spending.

Poll: Americans Favor Raising Cigarette Tax for Kids' Health Care

Representatives from health advocacy groups announced a poll of 1,000 likely voters showing widespread support for increasing the federal tobacco tax to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Health IT Bill

Leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, introduced legislation they said would boost adoption nationwide of health information technology.

Stark Plans Part D Changes in Medicare Bill

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Calif., said he hopes to move legislation this summer that would tighten oversight of drug coverage plans offered under the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Provisions may include language giving state insurance regulators authority to oversee insurers marketing the plans, requiring public disclosure of enforcement action taken against drug plans that violate Medicare regulations, and mandating coverage of benzodiazepines, a category of drugs used to tranquilize nursing home patients, among other uses.