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VA Scandal Deepens - Health Care Edge

VA Scandal Deepens

By Sam Baker, Sophie Novack and Clara Ritger

 

MORE CALLS FOR SHINSEKI TO RESIGN: At least 1,700 veterans were kept off the waiting lists for treatment at a Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix, according to a preliminary report from the VA's inspector general. The report, while incomplete, confirms some of the worst allegations about the Phoenix VA, and the IG report turned up similar scheduling problems nationwide. The report added fuel to the fire over the VA's mismanagement, and lawmakers stepped up the pressure on VA Eric Shinseki to step down. Sens. Mark Udall and Kay Hagan became the first Senate Democrats to call for Shinseki's resignation, joining dozens of other lawmakers.

Top Health Care News

REPORT CONFIRMS ALLEGATIONS OF MISCONDUCT AT PHOENIX VA HOSPITAL: A preliminary report from the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general's office finds that 1,700 veterans were waiting for care but not found on the VA's official electronic waiting list, and that the problem is nationwide. (Sarah Mimms, National Journal)

  • VA Official testifies that there are no secret waiting lists (Sarah Mimms, National Journal)
  • Scores more congressional leaders are calling for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki over the scandal. Here's a partial list. (German Lopez, Vox Media)

IS AN $84,000 HEPATITIS DRUG TOO EXPENSIVE? "Sovaldi is a lightning rod because insurers and consumer advocates are afraid it's a sign of what's to come. The drug pipeline is full of drugs like Sovaldi, and insurers say that flood of new, expensive products will cause health care spending to skyrocket." (Sam Baker, National Journal)

 

INSURERS SCRUTINIZE DRUG COSTS AFTER $84,000 SOVALDI SURPRISE: Insurers can't legally deny access to the drug, which is helping Americans with hepatitis C. But the drug is flying off the shelves at a cost that insurers say will hike premiums. (Caroline Humer and Deena Beasley, Reuters)

CDC BACKTRACKS ON MERS: The Illinois man didn't have MERS after all, federal health officials said Wednesday. (Jonel Aleccia, NBC News)

Congress

SCALISE TO PUSH GOP LEADERS ON OBAMACARE ALTERNATIVE: The Republican Study Committee leader wants to see his bill to repeal and replace Obamacare on the House floor. (Lauren French and John Bresnahan, Politico)

Doctors & Hospitals

MOST DOCTORS WOULD REJECT AGGRESSIVE TREATMENT IF FOUND TERMINALLY ILL, STUDY FINDS: Almost 90 percent of doctors would opt for a "do-not-resuscitate" order, Stanford University School of Medicine finds. (Agencies, The Telegraph)

 

WITH SPECIAL CLINICS, HOSPITALS VIE FOR HESITANT PATIENTS: MEN: "Now men are beginning to get equal treatment as hospitals try to take advantage of an enormous untapped market: men who, studies show, avoid doctors for virtually anything short of a bullet wound. The new clinics offer one-stop shopping for services ranging from heart monitoring to hair removal to hormone therapy, from the life-prolonging to the life-enhancing, if medically debatable." (Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times)

GEORGIA MAY REOPEN SOME CLOSED RURAL HOSPITALS AS ERS: Four of Georgia's 65 rural hospitals have shut down over the past two years and a dozen more have cut services as a result of reduced budgets, but the state is now offering a new type of license to allow struggling hospitals and ones that closed in the past year to become freestanding emergency departments. (Susanna Capelouto, NPR)

Women's Health

ARE YOUR MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS POISONING YOU?: Legislation introduced Wednesday would increase research and regulation of potentially harmful ingredients in feminine-hygiene products, but different versions of the bill have died in Congress for over a decade. (Sophie Novack, National Journal)

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OKLAHOMA GOV. SIGNS ANTI-ABORTION RESTRICTION INTO LAW: The legislation--signed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin Wednesday--will require doctors performing abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Similar legislation has passed (and is being challenged) in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Wisconsin, and is expected to be signed into law shortly in Louisiana.

Drugs & Medicine

CIALIS MAY BECOME AN OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUG: The drug's maker, Eli Lilly, and the French pharmaceutical company, Sanofi, announced a proposal Wednesday to allow men with erectile dysfunction to purchase the drug without a prescription, but it is unclear whether the Food and Drug Administration or international regulatory bodies will approve such a plan. (Katie Thomas, New York Times)

ACTING 'DRUG CZAR' WALKS THE TALK: Michael Botticelli enjoys attending drug court graduations for personal and professional reasons. His story is a window into where America's drug policy is headed. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)

WHY ARE SO MANY YOUNG SUBURBAN WHITES USING HEROIN? The prescription drug abuse epidemic has caused a seismic shift in opioid addiction. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)

Nutrition & Obesity

STUDY: ONE-THIRD OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION IS OBESE: The highest proportion of the world's obese population--13 percent--lives in the United States. (The Lancet)

JUNK FOOD MAY BE 'ADDICTIVE' TO KIDS: Kids may be more prone to addiction than adults because their brains haven't developed impulse control yet. One researcher says kids eating highly processed foods can show classic signs of addiction such as loss of control and withdrawal. (Eliza Gray, TIME)

Implementation

STUDY: 27.7 MILLION PREVIOUSLY UNINSURED PEOPLE ARE ELIGIBLE FOR ASSISTANCE: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute released a new analysis on the uninsured population and its eligibility for Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act tax subsidies. (Urban Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

Happening Today

ENERGY AND COMMERCE BRIEFING ON FEDERAL PROGRAMS ADDRESSING SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS: Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy is holding a meeting of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee to highlight the committee's recent report on federal programs addressing severe mental illness. The committee is scheduled to meet at 12:30 p.m. in 2322 Rayburn.

WAYS AND MEANS HEARING: ARE WE OVERMEDICATING CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE? Dr. Phil is among the witnesses scheduled to appear to discuss the use of psychotropic medications by children in foster care. The committee is scheduled to meet at 2:00 p.m. in 1102 Longworth.

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