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State Block Grants Possible in 2002 If Medicare Reform Fails This Year - Tauzin

Executive Summary

Congress will consider a state block grant drug benefit in 2002 if a Medicare reform package does not pass this year, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Tauzin (R-La.) predicted during a March 22 media briefing.

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FEHBP Premium "Call Letter" To Kick Off Hill Debate On Employee Program

The role of pharmaceutical prices in the cost of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program will return as a Capitol Hill issue following the release of the Office of Personnel Management's annual "call letter" on FEHBP premiums in early April.

Dems pressure Thompson on privacy

Thirty-five Democrats from the House and Senate sent a letter March 20 to HHS Secretary Thompson urging implementation of privacy regs. Thompson could modify the regs during the one-year period following their adoption "when necessary in order to permit compliance," the letter states. HHS Counsel Sally Canfield said Thompson is more likely to delay implementation of the regs rather than let them take effect April 14

Future Lipitor spokesman?

During House Budget hearing March 7, Rep. Gutknecht (R-Minn.) asked HHS Secretary Thompson about a letter sent to a senior citizen who imported Pfizer's cholesterol drug Lipitor for personal use, quoting it as saying "this article appears to be a new drug without an approved NDA." Thompson responded, "I want to find out about those letters because I personally take Lipitor. It better be an approved drug or else my doctor is in trouble"

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