Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Medicaid provision "discriminatory and unjust" 

from practicalbioethics.org

A little-noticed provision of the US Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007 is aimed at reducing prescription fraud. The requirement states: "Effective October 1, 2007, Medicaid outpatient drugs will be reimbursable only if non-electronic written prescriptions are executed on a tamper-resistant pad."

That provision has prompted more than a dozen leaders of bioethics centers and other prominent scholars in the field to express their concerns about the amendment to Dennis Smith, Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

"Although we are supportive of the intent of this legislation, we have several serious ethical concerns," says Myra Christopher, president and CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, and originator of the letter.

Bioethics leaders submit that since the requirement applies only to Medicaid patients it is clearly discriminatory and unjust. "We cannot understand why, if CMS believes this is good policy, it would not be applied to all Americans covered under the Social Security Act, including those on Medicare," Christopher says.

Help make NIH-funded research findings freely available to everyone! 

Back in July, the House of Representatives passed a bill that requires all the NIH-funded research to be made freely available to the public within at most 12 months subsequent to publication.

The equivalent bill has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this summer and will be up for vote in the Senate very soon! In advance of this important vote, The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a Call for action:

As the Senate considers Appropriations measures for the 2008 fiscal year this fall, please take a moment to remind your Senators of your strong support for public access to publicly funded research and - specifically - ensuring the success of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy by making deposit mandatory for researchers.

Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives passed legislation with language that directs the NIH to make this change (http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/media/release07-0720.html). The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar measure (http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/media/release07-0628.html). Now, as the Appropriations process moves forward, it is critically important that our Senators are reminded of the breadth and depth of support for enhanced public access to the results of NIH-funded research. Please take a moment to weigh in with your Senator now.

Read the rest for talking points and the contact information of your Senators, then do your part and contact them! And spread the word - by e-mail, posting on your blog or website, on forums and mailing lists. Let's get this bill passed this month and thus ensure that taxpayer-funded research is freely available to its funders - the taxpayers.

This needs to be done no later than Friday, September 28, 2007, when the bill is slated to appear in the Senate.