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The Budget

  • From Clinics to Child Insurance, Budget Deal Affects Health Care  New York Times by Robert Pear — The budget deal in Congress is billed as a measure to grant stability to a government funding process that has lurched from crisis to crisis — but it is also stuffed with provisions that will broadly affect the nation's health care system, like repealing an advisory board to curb Medicare spending and funding community health centers. Many of the provisions have been in gestation for months, even years in some cases. Some will save money. Many will cost money — potentially a lot of money. Among the more significant provisions is one that would eliminate a powerful 15-member panel, known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created by the Affordable Care Act to control the rising costs of Medicare.

  • Popular Bill to Fight Drug Prices Left Out of Budget Deal  The Hill by Peter Sullivan — Drug pricing advocates are decrying the budget deal announced Wednesday for leaving out a bipartisan drug pricing measure that they had pushed for. The measure would prevent branded drug companies from using delay tactics to prevent cheaper generic competitors from coming onto the market.  It is one of the few drug pricing measures that has bipartisan support in Congress, but it did not end up being included in the bipartisan budget deal announced Wednesday. Drug pricing advocates are blaming the pharmaceutical industry, which has been lobbying hard against the measure. They point out that much of the rest of the health-care world supports it.

  • New Spending Agreement Repeals Obamacare's Mythical Death Panel  Huffington Post by Jonathan Cohn —The bill would also repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, which is a commission of experts that the Affordable Care Act created back in 2010.  The Affordable Care Act sets a spending target for Medicare, as part of a broader effort by the law's architects to reduce the cost of medical care. IPAB's job is to make those targets stick, by recommending cuts if Medicare costs exceed the threshold. But at the end of the day, holding the line on medical spending almost inevitably means taking money away from the health care industry. And that's never easy to do. As Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation put it, there is "a bipartisan consensus that health care cost containment generally seems better in theory than in practice." Occasionally the political will to impose cuts exists, and that's arguably what happened when the architects of the Affordable Care Act created the IPAB. But the board's enemies didn't give up, and it looks like they have finally won.

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