As this issue went to press, Congress
had still not resolved the issue of Medicare physician payment. Fixing the
formula used to calculate Medicare physician payment had originally been
thought of as a key component of health reform. The high cost of the fix ($250
million over 10 years), however, brought the total cost of the health reform
bill above a trillion dollars, so it was excluded from the health overhaul
The Senate was expected to consider a
new short-term extension bill HR 4851 that would extend the 2009 Medicare
physician payment rates and prevent scheduled cuts until April 30, 2010. The
Senate had approved a longer-term extension HR 4213 earlier, but the House of
Representatives opted to pass the 30-day extension included in HR 4851.
Updated information about this issue is available on the ASH Web site at www.hematology.org.
Online Resource: ASH
Federal Grants Web Page
Drawing together the multitude of
hematology-related research grant opportunities that are available through the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies, the Society has
created a section on the ASH Web site to simplify members’ search for requests
for blood and blood disease research topics. ASH regularly updates this page
and will expand its scope in the future when other grants are published that may
be of interest to hematologists.
Reform Legislation Signed Into Law
President Barack Obama signed a
landmark health-care bill into law March 23, enacting a sweeping overhaul of
the nation’s $2.5 trillion health system after a year-long effort.
More than a dozen Republican state
attorneys general filed lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional minutes
after the President signed it into law.
The legislation would cost $940
billion over the next decade and extend health insurance coverage to an
estimated 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. The package is
aimed at stemming the soaring growth in the cost of health care and reducing
the federal deficit by more than $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years.
Some of the benefits that kick in this
year include a provision barring insurance companies from excluding children
with preexisting conditions and another that allows children to remain on their
parents’ health insurance policy under certain circumstances until age 26.
A few of the less popular provisions
will be phased in over several years, including the requirement that all
Americans buy health insurance.
Please visit the ASH Web site at www.hematology.org for an analysis of how the health reform law will impact hematologists.
Stem Cell Bill
Introduced in House of Representatives
Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Mike
Castle (R-DE) introduced legislation on March 10 “to ensure a lasting ethical
framework” for human stem cell research at the National Institutes of Health
The Stem Cell Research Advancement Act
(HR 4808) builds on President Obama’s March 2009 Executive Order overturning
former President Bush’s restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell
research. The bill authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
to conduct and support research on human stem cells, including embryonic stem
cells, under the following conditions:
- The stem cells were derived from human embryos that have been donated from in
vitro fertilization clinics, were created for the purposes of reproductive
treatment, and were in excess of the clinical need of the individuals
seeking such treatment.
- It was determined through consultation with the individuals seeking
reproductive treatment that the embryos to be donated would never be implanted
in a woman and would otherwise be discarded.
- The individuals seeking reproductive treatment donated the embryos with written
informed consent and without receiving any financial or other inducements to
make the donation.
In addition, the bill requires NIH to maintain
guidelines on human stem cell research conducted or supported by HHS and to
review the guidelines at least every three years and update them as warranted.
The bill also explicitly bans federal funding for human cloning.
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