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America's Drug Problem - Health Care Edge: Brought to you by Pfizer RxPathways

America's Drug Problem

By Sophie Novack and Clara Ritger

 

PILL POPPERS: The House Energy and Commerce committee is holding a hearing at 10 a.m. today to examine the growing problems of prescription drug and heroin abuse. The witness list is a cross section of all the involved agencies, including representatives from the Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Agency, the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The hearing marks a renewed commitment by Congress to fight prescription drug abuse; over in the Senate, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee has formed a special working group to find concrete ways the government can fight back.

Top Health Care News

WHY PUBLIC OPINION OF OBAMACARE REMAINS NEGATIVE: The latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll data is out, and despite more Americans getting covered, people still dislike the health law. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)

NEW WASHINGTON POST-ABC NEWS POLL: Just 37 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of Obamacare. (Dan Balz and Peyton M. Craighill, Washington Post)

 

A DEADLY FUNGUS AND QUESTIONS AT A HOSPITAL: After a handful of children died from an infectious outbreak at a hospital, lawyers, federal health officials, hospital administrators, doctors and families are trying to figure out what went wrong--and who to blame. (Ian Urbina and Sheri Fink, New York Times)

Politics

FIRST CONFIRMATION HEARING FOR HHS SECRETARY SET FOR NEXT WEEK. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Obama's nominee to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, will appear before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on May 8. (Elise Viebeck, The Hill)

THE REAL RISKS OF ACA MISINFORMATION: "As political strategies go, persuading people to skip something, then feigning anger on their behalf when they can't access it, is breathtaking in its cynicism." (Brian Beutler, New Republic)

HOW CONGRESS IS ACTUALLY HOLDING DOWN MEDICARE SPENDING: "The [Sustainable Growth Rate] formula — as flawed as it is — has helped keep Medicare spending lower than it might otherwise have been. Instead of cutting physician payments by the large amount the S.G.R. demands, Congress has increased payment rates, but typically by only tiny amounts — at an annual rate of just 0.7 percent. That pace does not keep up with the typical cost of care." (Austin Frakt, New York Times)

 

Industry

U.S. TREASURY SEEN LOSER IN TAX-AVOIDING PFIZER DEAL: "'This is basically an opportunity to go outside the U.S. and still sell in the U.S. and strip the tax base,' said H. David Rosenbloom, an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington and director of the international tax program at New York University's school of law." (Jesse Drucker and Zachary R. Mider, Bloomberg News)

HEALTH PLANS SCRAMBLE TO CALCULATE 2015 TAX RATES: "We're working with about a third of the information that we usually have," said a rep at Pennsylvania's Independence Blue Cross. (Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News)

States

HOW MANY PEOPLE IN EACH STATE ARE MISSING OUT ON MEDICAID COVERAGE? In 19 states, more than 4.8 million people are in health care limbo. (Emma Roller and Stephanie Stamm, National Journal)

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Health Care Edge is one of my top resources."

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HEALTH CARE'S APPALACHIAN SPRING: OBAMACARE COMES TO AN OLD BATTLEFIELD IN THE WAR ON POVERTY: Those who would benefit most from the president's health law are ambivalent about its effects. It's not the perfect industry shake-up that many were hoping for, but Obamacare is touching lives. (Jayne O'Donnell and Rick Hampson, USA Today; Chris Kenning and Laura Ungar, The Courier-Journal)

MISSISSIPPI'S LAST ABORTION CLINIC FIGHTS TO STAY OPEN: The big question? Whether forcing women to go out-of-state for an abortion is an undue burden on their constitutional rights. (Irin Carmon, MSNBC)

SCOTT BROWN SUPPORTS MAJOR PARTS OF OBAMACARE, JUST NOT OBAMACARE: Senator Jeanne Shaheen's challenger endorses popular parts of the law, such as covering preexisting conditions, but opposes the unpopular elements, such as Medicare provider cuts. Brown's views sum up the challenge the Republican Party has faced for years: they can't find a non-Obamacare health plan that everyone can agree on. (Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo)

FROM ZERO TO 3.3. MILLION SIGNUPS--HOW CALIFORNIA WON THE OBAMACARE RACE: California was determined to get it right, and its early investments helped it to sign up the most consumers of all 50 states. (Dan Diamond, California Healthline)

OBAMA RESPONDS TO THE VA ALLEGATIONS IN PHOENIX: "The moment we heard about the allegations around these 40 individuals who had died in Phoenix, I immediately ordered the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, General Shinseki, to investigate," the president said Monday at a press conference in the Philippines.

"We also have an IG investigation taking place. And so we take the allegations very seriously...I'm interested in working with everybody, whether it's our outstanding veteran service organizations or Congress, to make sure that there is not a single veteran in the United States who needs help -- whether because they're homeless, because they're sick, because they're looking for a job. I want to make sure that they are getting the help that they need."

  • A link to the story about the Phoenix VA, where the waits were so long that one woman says her father-in-law, a Navy veteran with bladder cancer, wasn't called into the hospital for an appointment until after he died. (Ben Kesling and Erica E. Phillips, Wall Street Journal)

Consumers

SOME SURPRISING FINDINGS ABOUT YOUNG ADULTS AND HEALTH CARE: Young adults insured for part of the year had higher emergency room costs than those uninsured for the whole year. (Marissa Evans, Kaiser Health News)

SHOULD WE BE CALLING OBESITY A DISEASE? A look at the possible impacts of how we classify obesity, and whether it's causing people to consume more high-calorie foods. (Tara Long, Discovery News, Yahoo! News)

Happening Today

NATIONAL JOURNAL DISCUSSION ON INSURANCE REGULATORY MODERNIZATION: Insurance is the only major financial industry not formally regulated at the federal level. Should that change? How does the U.S. way of doing insurance fit into the global picture? The breakfast briefing begins at 8 a.m.

POLITICO PRO DISCUSSION ON CHANGING HEALTH CARE LANDSCAPE: How are insurers and providers changing the way they do business in the age of Obamacare? What lessons have we learned since October? The breakfast briefing begins at 8 a.m.

HOUSE CONSIDERS EXPATRIATE COVERAGE: The full House of Representatives is scheduled to consider H.R. 4414, the "Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014" and the session begins at 10 a.m.

HOUSE COMMITTEE LOOKS AT PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE: The House Energy and Commerce Committee gathers at 10 a.m. in 2322 Rayburn for a hearing on the nation's growing problems with prescription drug and heroin abuse.

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