Weekend Update

The Senate recessed this week after confirming Elena Kagan as a Supreme Court justice and passing a bill that will provide increased Medicaid funding, among other things. The American Hospital Association is very pleased by this Medicaid development.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling back the House in order to send this bill to the President for signature, according to the Washington Post.

The Wall Street Journal reports that momentum is building on both sides of the aisle in Congress to repeal or water down the Affordable Health Care Act provision that will vastly expand the IRS 1099-MISC reporting obligation on businesses. The current 1099 reporting requirement generally is limited to reporting purchases of services from individuals and partnerships over $600 in a tax year. Expanded reporting is required for health plan payments to health care providers and business payments to lawyers. The Politico reports on the dueling bills that will taken up shortly after the Senate returns on September 13.

Last year, First Databank implemented a class action settlement under which it agreed to stop publishing the Average Wholesale Prices (AWP) of prescription drugs in September 2011.  AWP is the pricing benchmark that prescription benefit managers often use in their contracts with retail pharmacies and health plans. Since then stakeholders have been evaluating other benchmarks to replace AWP.  AIS Drug Business News reports that

The search to find a replacement for controversial average wholesale price (AWP) data just became a little less urgent, as one of the major drug compendia has decided it will continue publishing the pricing benchmark because of a lack of consensus on possible alternatives.

Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc., publisher of the Medi-Span drug pricing database, has pledged to continue publishing AWP “until relevant industry or governmental organizations develop a viable, generally accepted alternative.” The company says that discontinuing AWP before an industrywide accepted alternative is found “could create significant customer problems and confusion or disruption” throughout the entire industry.