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Health Care Edge

Burwell Heads To The Hill - Health Care Edge: Brought to you by the American Hospital Association (AHA)

May 5, 2014

Burwell Heads To The Hill

By Sam Baker, Sophie Novack and Clara Ritger

CONFIRMATION PROCESS BEGINS: This week, we'll finally find out for certain just how eager Republicans are to pick a new and aggressive Obamacare fight surrounding the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the next HHS secretary. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is slated to hold its confirmation hearing Thursday -- the first of two she'll face before a floor vote. And while Republicans initially seemed eager to use the confirmation process for a high-profile health care fight, rank-and-file Republicans have since begun to state their support for Burwell -- which will mean fewer fireworks.

 

Top Health Care News

TEXAS IS PERMANENTLY SHUTTING DOWN ABORTION CLINICS AND THE SUPREME COURT CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT: Regardless of that the judicial system does with challenges to Texas's antiabortion law passed last summer, its on the ground effects are unlikely to be reversed. (Sophie Novack, National Journal)

MANY HOSPICES FAIL TO TREAT DYING PATIENTS: A Washington Post investigation found that hundreds of hospices declined to provide care to the neediest patients in times of crisis. (Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating, Washington Post)

BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS FROM YOUNG MICE FOUND TO IMPROVE FUNCTIONALITY IN OLDER MICE: The research may show ways to treat diseases such as Alzheimer's, and reverse some effects of aging in humans. (Ron Winslow, Wall Street Journal)

Implementation

OBAMA JOKES ABOUT OBAMACARE ROLLOUT AT WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION DINNER: "We rolled out HealthCare.gov. That could have gone better," Obama said at the annual dinner. "In 2008 my slogan was 'Yes we can.' In 2013 my slogan was 'Control-alt-delete.'" (Associated Press)

EMPLOYERS MUST INFORM LAID-OFF EMPLOYEES OF INSURANCE OPTIONS: The administration issued a rule Friday saying that employers must notify workers of their health plan options through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, as an alternative to COBRA. (Louise Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal)

HHS OFFICE OF HEALTH REFORM DIRECTOR TO STEP DOWN: Read Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' letter to staff, announcing the departure of Mike Hash in May. (Megan McCarthy, Morning Consult)

MEDICAID EXPANSION: THE FINAL BATTLE IN THE WAR OVER OBAMACARE: "The final battles of any war often are the bloodiest." (Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times)

Enrollment

OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT SURPASSES EXPECTATIONS, EVEN WITH NON-PAYMENT OF PREMIUMS: An analysis from Avalere Health found that ACA enrollment exceeded expectations in 22 states, even assuming only 85 percent of consumers end up paying their premiums. (Caroline F. Pearson, Avalere Health)

LAST-MINUTE OBAMACARE ENROLLEES WERE MORE LIKELY TO PICK CHEAPER COVERAGE: "Twenty percent of all people who chose plans in the Obamacare marketplaces went with bronze, and 65 percent chose silver — both were up from 18 percent and 63 percent, respectively, at the end of February. The percentage of those picking gold (9 percent) and platinum plans (5 percent) through the end of the enrollment period were down slightly from February. Overall, 2 percent chose catastrophic plans." (Jason Millman, Washington Post)

Disease

STUDY FINDS SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN DIABETES AMONG CHILDREN: A new study published in the journal of the American Medicine Association found that from 2001 to 2009, the prevalence of Type 1 diabetes increased 21 percent among children up to age 19, while the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes rose 30 percent. (Catherine Saint Louis, New York Times)

FIRST U.S. CASE OF MERS FOUND IN INDIANA MAN WHO VISITED SAUDI ARABIA: "The newer virus was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. Since then, about 400 cases have been reported to the World Health Organization; about a third have been fatal." (Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times)

Smoking

SOME E-CIGARETTES PRODUCE CARCINOGENS: "A study to be published this month in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research found that the high-power e-cigarettes known as tank systems produce formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, along with the nicotine-laced vapor that their users inhale. The toxin is formed when liquid nicotine and other e-cigarette ingredients are subjected to high temperatures, according to the study." (Matt Richtel, New York Times)

ADMINISTRATION CLARIFIES OBAMACARE TOBACCO CESSATION RULES: "Group health plans and health insurance issuers under ObamaCare must provide free tobacco use screening and offer smokers at least two tobacco cessation attempts each year. Each attempt should also include four tobacco cessation counseling sessions and 90-day prescriptions for approved medication to help patients break the habit." (Ferdous Al-Faruque, The Hill)

Providers

PHYSICIANS UNDERESTIMATE RISK OF OPIOID ABUSE IN CHRONIC PAIN PATIENTS: "Despite rampant opioid misuse, abuse, and diversion self-reported by chronic pain patients in a study presented at the American Pain Society 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting...primary care providers tended to downgrade the patients' risk for engaging in those drug-related aberrant behaviors, indicating a gap between physicians' objective risk assessment for opioid abuse and the actual extent of the problem." (Katie Eder, HCP Live)

WAVE OF IDENTITY THEFT CASES AGAINST DOCTORS CONTINUES TO GROW: "The U.S. Secret Service is now leading a national investigation, aided by local IRS agents, into a rash of tax fraud cases against doctors that has spread to at least 18 states. Medical societies across the country are reporting that thieves have used the names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of clinicians – and in some cases the names of doctors' spouses and patients – to file bogus state and federal tax returns." (Jonathan Easley, Morning Consult)

Mental Health

TRAVEL INSURANCE RARELY COVERS MENTAL HEALTH: "Under the Mental Health Parity Act and Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies are required to provide mental health coverage if they cover physical illnesses. But travel insurance isn't included in those laws." (Megan Pauly, NPR)

Abortion

U.S. ANTIABORTION GROUPS INSPIRE EUROPEAN MOVEMENT: "A younger generation of anti-abortion activists has turned to the United States for legal advice, strategic training and transatlantic inspiration. They credit a distinctly American approach with forcing abortion, long a deeply private issue in Europe, into the public conversation. And for the Americans who travel overseas to assist, strengthening their cause internationally also strengthens their position at home." (Sarah Wheaton, Politico)

Happening This Week

Tuesday

HOUSE HEARING ON 21ST CENTURY CURES: The Energy and Commerce committee meets at 3 p.m. in 2123 Rayburn to discuss the state of domestic biomedical innovation and what can be done to accelerate the process of bringing new treatments and cures to patients. Among the witnesses scheduled to attend are representatives from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the Manhattan Institute.

Wednesday

REVIEW OF THE FY2015 HHS BUDGET: The Senate Appropriations Committee convenes at 10 a.m. in 138 Dirksen to hear from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration about the president's proposed health budget. Marilyn Tavenner and other HHS reps will testify.

HEALTH IT AND PAYMENT MODEL BRIEFING: The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange holds a briefing on the progress the health IT industry is making in the creation of payment models under the ACA. Representatives from WellPoint, Christiana Care Health System and QSI - Nextgen HealthCare are scheduled to be in attendance at 1:30 p.m. in 188 Russell.

INSURANCE INDUSTRY HEARING: House Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing titled "PPACA Enrollment and the Insurance Industry," at 10:15 a.m.

Thursday

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL NOMINATION FOR HHS SECRETARY: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will meet at 10 a.m. in 430 Dirksen to evaluate the president's nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell for the position of Health and Human Services Secretary.

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