Countdown: Feds’ sacrifice for deficit reduction, mobile health apps

On this week’s Federal News Countdown:
Melissa Chapman, Vice President for Health Solutions, Agilex; former Chief Information Officer, Department of Health & Human Services
John Kamensky, Senior Fellow, IBM Center for the Business of Government

Melissa Chapman’s stories
#3 Feds describes major push for mobile health apps
From Enterprise Mobile Today:

Senior government officials on Monday touted the Obama administration’s commitment to expanding federally backed programs to encourage mobile applications that aid the delivery of health care and monitoring services.

Speaking here at the mHealth Summit, a conference focused on mobile technology and health care, Todd Park, CTO at the Department of Health and Human Services, described an ambitious online initiative expected to launch in December that will open access to the agency’s trove of health information through a new website. The open health data campaign, centered around the forthcoming site, aims to provide a fertile repository of information about childhood obesity, smoking cessation rates and all manner of other data sets that developers and others could use to build novel health IT applications.


#2 Health-care law likely to stay — for now
From The Washington Post:

Among the discrete provisions Republicans have discussed putting on the chopping block is the “individual mandate,” which requires virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But any effort to strip the law of a provision that Democrats and the president consider essential to its overall functioning is likely to suffer the same fate as an outright repeal bill. Without the individual mandate, for instance, the law’s requirement that insurers stop denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions or set annual limits on benefits could fall apart because the risk pool could be skewed toward the sick.

On the other hand, Republicans could succeed in eliminating unpopular aspects that are less central to the law. A case in point is the “1099” provision, which will require businesses to greatly expand their reporting to the IRS of any goods and services they buy. The measure was intended to raise money for the law by helping the IRS clamp down on tax evasion. But many small businesses say that complying with it will prove costly and onerous. Democrats and the president have expressed a willingness to modify or repeal it, as long as Congress finds an alternate funding source.

#1 Review of prostate cancer drug Provenge renews medical cost-benefit debate
From The Washington Post:

Federal officials are conducting an unusual review to determine whether the government should pay for an expensive new vaccine for treating prostate cancer, rekindling debate over whether some therapies are too costly.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which dictate what treatments the massive federal health-insurance program for the elderly will cover, is running a “national coverage analysis” of Provenge, the first vaccine approved for treating any cancer. The treatment costs $93,000 a patient and has been shown to extend patients’ lives by about four months.

John Kamensky’s stories
#3 Federal government needs a chief operating officer
From The Washington Post:

. The country’s chief executive officer needs a chief operating officer to run the day-to-day government, to cut through budget battles, political fiefdoms, parochialism and inertia to assist the president in keeping this country moving. Let the president’s chief of staff manage the White House – an enormous responsibility in itself. We need a chief operating officer to manage everything else.

While a COO must understand how policy and politics influence decision making in Washington, he should leave the politics to the chief of staff and others in the White House and undertake the hard role of running the business of government. Far from reflecting poorly on this president or his chief of staff, this suggestion is about the efficacy of the office itself. This innovation would modernize the institution of the presidency and enhance the ability of this president and his successors to govern.

#2 Administration announces finalists in cost-cutting contest
From Government Executive:

Obama administration officials on Monday announced the finalists in a contest asking federal employees to share their ideas for curbing unnecessary government spending.

The Securing Americans’ Value and Efficiency award, now in its second year, was created to help federal agencies perform better and save taxpayers money. The winner will earn a meeting with President Obama, and his or her proposal will be included in the fiscal 2012 budget.

#1 Federal workers’ sacrifice would help U.S. debt, deficit panel says
From Washington Post:

Federal employees would play a major role in reducing the nation’s debt and deficit under a set of draft proposals released Wednesday by the co-chairs of President Obama’s deficit commission.

Former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former senator Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.) called on Americans to make sacrifices to “make America strong for the long haul.”