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Photo: Getty Images

The White House is reviewing a 2020 payment rule for Medicare outpatient services, and companies that make devices for a procedure that serves as a substitute for opioids are trying to persuade Medicare to create a new payment model.

Driving the news: Earlier this month, lobbyists with Smiths Medical and InfuSystems pushed federal officials for a new, separate medical code for "continuous peripheral nerve block," according to federal lobbying records. 

  • CPNB is where patients receive pain meds after a surgery through a catheter and infusion pump instead of taking painkiller pills. Smiths Medical and InfuSystems make the relevant products.
  • This isn't a new lobbying issue for these companies, and they told health officials the procedure "is a well-studied and practiced solution that should receive payment outside of the bundle," according to a copy of their lobbying presentation.

The big picture: Policymakers want to find other ways to treat pain — given the destruction that addictive opioid pills has caused — and many companies sit on the other side of the table selling opioid alternatives, with the hope of getting higher government pay.

What's next? We'll see if the lobbying worked in late July, when the rule usually comes out.

Go deeper: Drug industry lobbying for a big Medicare break in opioids bill

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.