Public Health

Morning Rounds: Grassley Tweets, Tobacco and Food Safety Coming Up

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Health care moves to a tweet, tweet beat wonderferret/Flickr hide caption

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Good Morning. The business of overhauling health care, or at least talking about it, moves up to warp speed. A European-touring President Obama gets an earful of tweets from the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

Sunday morning, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) let it be known, from his Blackberry in shorthand to the world via Twitter, that he was none too pleased with the President's tone in his weekly radio address:

Pres Obama while u sightseeing in Paris u said 'time to delivr on healthcare' When you are a 'hammer' u think evrything is NAIL I'm no NAIL

and, a few minutes later:

Pres Obama you got nerve while u sightseeing in Paris to tell us 'time to deliver' on health care. We still on skedul/even workinWKEND.

White House reax: "President Obama is gratified that the Senate is working hard to bring a health reform bill to the floor on schedule." Obama did some sightseeing while overseas to commemorate the anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

Grassley must have been feeling strongly, because his previous tweets have to do with mowing grass, announcing the birth of a grandchild, free trade, and how his softball team beat Chairman Max Baucus' team last month.

Meanwhile, a draft of Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D_MA) vision for health care overhaul was obtained/leaked to members of the press this weekend. Highlights include payment to doctors and hospitals of Medicare plus 10 percent, whereas many other bills would cut payments, says The New York Times.

And NPR's Scott Horsley has a piece this morning on a proposal to tax employees' health care to help pay for the overhaul: It might save money but it's a political hot potato.

FDA In Spotlight

It's also shaping up to be a big week for the FDA. A key House Comittee is close to passing a food safety overhaul bill designed to beef up the agency's authorities and move towards giving it enough resources to inspect food plants more than once every 10 years.

The Senate is expected to pass a tobacco bill this week that would give the agency a role in regulating cigarettes, but not without a fight by a certain Senator from North Carolina.

NPR's Joanne Silberner reports on these two issues later in the week.

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