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WASHINGTON INSIDER As I See It BY TOM SULLIVAN Sen. Grassley questions As healthcare reform moves advocacy group funding through Congress, power moves THe RAnKInG member of from the hands of committee chairmen to the the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) speaker and the Senate majority leader, who will has asked state-level chapters of decide, with little input, what stays in and out of the the national Alliance on Men- final bills. Both bills contain physician payment sun- tal Illness (nAMI) to account for funds given directly to them shine provisions requiring manufacturers to report by drug companies or coming payments of greater than $5-$10 to physicians and to them through drug company organizations. funding of the organization. An earlier inquiry of the The Senate version was worked on by Sens. Herb national-level nAMI found that Kohl and Chuck Grassley for over two years in one in 2005-2008, drug companies of the best bipartisan collaborations ever on Capitol gave a total of $28.6 million to the organization, which has often Grassley: confidence would be Hill. Both senators’ staffs received input from numer- been accused of being too sup- improved with transparency ous individuals and organizations to determine the portive of mental health drugs most workable version. The goal was to capture the and the companies that make dence could be greatly improved most useful information them. “Public trust and public if financial relationships were dollars are at stake,” Grassley disclosed. My legislative effort The goal was to and, at the same time, said. “People rely on medical is a common-sense reform that capture the most not disrupt industry and advice and taxpayers spend bil- would require the pharmaceuti- useful information the practice of medicine. lions of dollars on prescription cal and device industry to report drugs and devices through Medi- money it gives to doctors.” and, at the same Their version was cap- care and Medicaid. Public confi- —James G. Dickinson time, not disrupt tured in the final Senate the industry Finance version of the healthcare reform bills. Regulatory changes key: Hamburg The House Sunshine provision is the exact oppo- FDA CoMMISSIoneR Mar- down the perception of FDA site. The drafter, Rep. Peter Stark, did not go out garet Hamburg says it is impor- as a bureaucratic “black box.” tant for the nation to strengthen She said it also needs to be rec- and build any type of consensus or solicit input from its commitment to regulatory ognized that we live in a world in others. Instead, he took a report that was developed science so that it becomes a which there will always be risks by the Medicare Payment Advisory Council and robust and respected discipline and crises, but there is much in the broader scientific enter- more than can be done to pre- put it into bill form with a whole lot of additional prise. Her comments were made vent such problems. “During a provisions. So, instead of just capturing physician during an interview she gave to crisis we have to not be afraid to payments, the House bill covers payments to every CnnMoney.com at the Cleve- communicate rather than circle land Clinic healthcare summit the wagons, which has happened single entity that a pharma, device, insurance compa-
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