Court Considers Anti-Abortion Legislation - Health Care Edge
'ABORTION-FREE' MISSISSIPPI? Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant could see his goal of an "abortion-free" state become a reality in as soon as a few weeks. A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments today regarding a Mississippi law that would close the only remaining abortion clinic in the state. The law -- passed in 2012 -- requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, which the two providers in the sole Mississippi clinic have been unable to secure. A judge granted a temporary injunction to prevent the provision from going into place as the clinic searched for a solution, but the state challenged the ruling, leading to today's hearing. The law is part of a wave of similar legislation being passed --and subsequently challenged -- in states across the nation, but the situation in Mississippi is particularly extreme because there is only one abortion provider in the state. If the court upholds the injunction, the law will continue to be delayed; if it is struck down, the law would be implemented immediately and the clinic would close. A decision could come in a few weeks or months. Read more on the case here.
Meanwhile, Congress returns from recess today to a week of hearings on drug safety, expatriate coverage, and telehealth. The confirmation hearings for Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Kathleen Sebelius as Department of Health and Human Services Secretary are anticipated in the coming weeks, but the Senate Finance Committee has not yet scheduled a date. The administration has said it expects the leadership transition to take place mid-May.
Top Health Care News
FEW HAVE SOUGHT EXEMPTION FROM HEALTH-CARE MANDATE THAT THEY HAVE INSURANCE OR PAY FINE: Upwards of 77,000 Americans have requested that the penalty for going without health insurance be waived, and so far, the Obama administration has rejected none of the applications they've processed. (Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post)
BEHIND THE SCENES, MUCH OF HEALTHCARE.GOV IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION: The back end of the federal Obamacare exchange website is a mess. And it's holding up important success metrics for the law. (Kyle Cheney, Politico)
IN POOREST STATES, POLITICAL STIGMA IS DEPRESSING PARTICIPATION IN THE HEALTH LAW: Obamacare's opponents are outspending coverage advocates on ads that create a stigma around the health law's new insurance exchanges. (Jackie Calmes, New York Times)
ONE THERAPIST, $4 MILLION IN 2012 MEDICARE BILLING: Medicare never questioned the physical therapist's practice or denied him payments. (Julie Creswell and Robert Gebeloff, New York Times)
HEALTH LAW'S PAY POLICY IS SKEWED, PANEL FINDS: Federal policies to reward high-quality health care are unfairly penalizing doctors and hospitals that treat large numbers of poor people, according to a new report commissioned by the Obama administration that recommends sweeping changes in payment policy. (Robert Pear, New York Times)
DOCTORS GET MILLIONS FROM MEDICARE AFTER LOSING THEIR LICENSES: "At least seven doctors who'd lost a medical license because of misconduct collected a total of $6.5 million from Medicare in 2012, according to federal data." (David Armstrong and Caroline Chen, Bloomberg News)
HEALTH CARE WONKS TURN TO 2016: Democrats have to start figuring out how they want to build upon or improve the Affordable Care Act, party advisers say. But Republicans are going to have to figure out how to please the base with a "repeal" message and no substantial "replace" message for Americans who will be used to their coverage by 2016. (David Nather, Politico)
TRIO OF DEMOCRATS STUCK IN MEDICAID MORASS: Missouri, Montana and Virginia's Democratic governors campaigned on getting Medicaid expansion done and none have. It's not just because of Republican opposition. (Kyle Cheney and Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)
Drugs and Medicine
FOR DRUGS THAT SAVE LIVES, A STEEP COST: America approves drugs without asking about their cost-effectiveness. And patients who need the innovative medicines can't figure out how to afford them. (Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times)
GIVING UP ON ITS OBAMACARE EXCHANGE IS NO CURE FOR OREGON'S ILLS: The 70,000 Oregonians who did manage to get covered may have to go through the application process again. (Kristian Foden-Vencil, National Public Radio)
WAITS FOR PHOENIX VA APPOINTMENTS DROVE SICK TO THE ER, EX-EMPLOYEE SAYS: Navy veteran with bladder cancer wasn't called until after he died, daughter-in-law says. (Ben Kesling and Erica E. Phillips, Wall Street Journal)
WHEN LESS IS MORE: ISSUES OF OVERUSE IN HEALTH CARE: As much as 30 percent of total health-care spending is overuse and therefore unnecessary. (Shannon Brownlee, Vikas Saini, and Christine Cassel, Health Affairs)
ONE-THIRD OF AMERICANS HAVEN'T VISITED A DENTIST IN THE LAST YEAR: New Gallup numbers also found that men, blacks, those with lower incomes and Southerners were less likely to have visited the dentist. (Dan Witters, Gallup)
BREAST CANCER'S COSTLY SIDE-EFFECT: LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT: Women who got chemotherapy were less likely to be working four years later, researchers found. (Judy Silverman, Erika Edwards and Stacy Naggiar, NBC News)
PARENTS: DON'T BUY CHEAP HEALTH PLANS, EXPERTS ADVISE: The American Academy of Pediatrics says states should restrict bare bones plans to adults. (Maggie Fox, NBC News)
Happening This Week
ACTUARIES LOOK AT AMERICA'S RETIREMENT ISSUE: The American Academy of Actuaries meets at 9:30 a.m. at the Ronald Reagan building to discuss "Retirement for the AGES (Alignment, Governance, Efficiency and Sustainability)."
HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE LOOKS AT EXPATRIATE COVERAGE: The committee meets at 5:00 p.m. in H-313 to formulate a rule on H.R. 4414, the "Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014."
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.
DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATOR TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE COMMITTEE: The full Judiciary committee will hear from DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart at 10 a.m. in Dirksen 226.
WOMEN'S HEALTH CAN'T WAIT: THE CONTINUED NEED FOR SEX AND GENDER BASED RESEARCH: The Society for Women's Health Research co-sponsors a program on gender equality in clinical trials at 10 a.m. in Rayburn 2358B. Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro is scheduled to attend.
PHARMACEUTICAL CARE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION FORUM: Sessions include prescription drug abuse, maximizing access to medicines, harnessing competition to reduce costs and Medicare Part D. The forum begins at 1:00 p.m.
HOUSE COMMITTEE LOOKS AT MEDICARE OVERSIGHT: The Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to gather at 2 p.m. in 1100 Longworth to discuss "Ideas to Improve Medicare Oversight to Reduce Waste, Fraud and Abuse." HHS And GAO officials are scheduled to attend.
HOUSE COMMITTEE CONSIDERS THE BENEFITS OF TELEHEALTH: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health holds a 10 a.m. hearing titled "Telehealth to Digital Medicine: How 21st Century Technology Can Benefit Patients."
THE CHALLENGE OF INTEGRATING BEHAVIORAL HEALTH AND PRIMARY CARE: Local and regional mental health officials gather at 12:15 p.m. with the Alliance for Health Reform for a briefing on the challenges of mental health care.