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Health Care Edge

Vote Set For Murthy - Health Care Edge: Brought to you by America's Biopharmaceutical Companies

February 27, 2014

Vote Set For Murthy 

By Sam Baker, Sophie Novack and Clara Ritger

MURTHY AND MESSAGING: The Senate health committee is planning to vote today on Vivek Murthy's nomination for surgeon general. Timing is TBD, based on when the Senate votes. Sen. Rand Paul is trying to hold up Murthy's nomination, but he's still expected to be confirmed. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are launching another reboot on their Obamacare messaging, hoping to play defense enough to neutralize the issue ahead of November's midterms. Majority Leader Harry Reid kicked things off with a barbed attack on the Koch brothers, the mega-rich GOP donors who have paid for a massive advertising campaign against Democrats who voted for the law.

 

Top Health Care News

MURTHY: Sen. Paul has reservations about Murthy's political advocacy work and his ability to serve impartially, but new Senate filibuster rules should allow a vote regardless. (Josh Hicks, Washington Post)

  • Murthy's nomination has been somewhat divisive, over concerns that he may be too young or too political for the top doctor post. (Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)

  • Five reasons you should care about the surgeon general. (Sophie Novack, National Journal)

MESSAGING: Senate Democrats' new Obamacare campaign aims to convey their support for the health care law and disprove negative anecdotes put forward by the GOP. (Niels Lesniewski, CQ Roll Call)

  • Sen. Reid said that all of the "horror stories" put forward by Koch-backed groups are untrue, then back-tracked in a second speech to say the "vast, vast majority of them are." "It's too bad that they are trying to buy America, and it's time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty and these two brothers who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine," Reid said. (Susan Heavey, Reuters)

  • Democrats are hitting back against a controversial Americans for Prosperity ad about a Michigan cancer patient. (Greg Sargent, Washington Post)

    • A fact check found the AFP ad doesn't line up. (Glenn Kessler, Washington Post)

FDA TO ANNOUNCE MAJOR CHANGES TO NUTRITION LABELS: The new guidelines would put calorie counts in large type, and reflect how much Americans actually eat in portion sizes. (Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times)

  • A side-by-side look at old versus proposed new labels. (Allison Aubrey, National Public Radio)

States

KOCH MONEY FLOWS INTO MEDICAID EXPANSION FIGHT IN VIRGINIA: A new Americans for Prosperity radio ad says supporters' push to expand the low-income health insurance program is to blame for the looming state government shutdown.(Sophie Novack, National Journal)

ARKANSAS MEDICAID TALKS CONTINUE, AS FIFTH HOUSE VOTE ON PRIVATE OPTION DELAYED AGAIN: "[Republican Speaker Davy] Carter met for about two hours with a handful of lawmakers who have opposed the expansion to see what alternative ideas they have to offer. Before the meeting, Carter said he doesn't believe there's enough support to change the legislation any more." (Andrew DeMillo, Associated Press)

HAWAII EXCHANGE AMONG THE WORST, WITH LITTLE ANSWERS OR TRANSPARENCY: "Four months in, Hawaii Health Connector has allocated $120 million but signed up only about 4,300 people — fewer than any other state. Some lawmakers want to put the nonprofit under state control." (Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times)

COMPANY WORKING ON OREGON'S FAILED ACA EXCHANGE SITE DOWNSIZES SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS: Oracle, the company at the center of controversy over the Cover Oregon website--which remains largely nonfunctional and unfinished--pulled 100 employees in the past week, leaving only 65. It is unclear whether the downsizing was agreed upon by the exchange. The Cover Oregon site still does not allow individuals to sign up for insurance on their own. (Nick Budnick, Oregonian)

Implementation

OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT A NUMBERS GAME IN FINAL STRETCH: "Four million down. Two million to go. Five weeks to get it done." (Joanne Kenen, Politico)

HHS OFFICIAL FOUND WHITE HOUSE 'DISARRAY' MONTHS BEFORE HEALTH LAW ROLLOUT: Email exchanges between HHS, White House officials and Enroll America reveal frustration behind the scenes. (Susan Crabtree, Washington Examiner)

ACA'S COOPS HAVE MIXED SUCCESS SO FAR: The health law sets up 23 nonprofit cooperatives meant to shake up the insurance market, but enrollment has been uneven. (Reed Abelson, Katie Thomas, and Jo Craven McGinty, New York Times)

  • Officials say COOPS have signed close to 300,000 members and will expand into three new states next year. (Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News)

PREMIUMS UP FOR 2014 PLANS IN PRIVATE EXCHANGE: But deductibles were significantly lower. Some of the price tag changes can also be attributed to amped up coverage, required by the Affordable Care Act. (Kelly Kennedy, USA Today)

GOP

GOP EXPECTS PROMISING ELECTION YEAR, THANKS TO OBAMACARE: "Surprise decisions by a slew of top-tier Republican challengers to enter this year's Senate race show that the GOP really does believe Obamacare's disastrous implementation will deliver a sweeping set of victories in November." (Alex Roarty, National Journal)

GOP TOO FOCUSED ON OBAMACARE, SOME REPUBLICANS WARN: Nearly every advertising dollar being spent against Democratic congressional candidates is going toward pounding them on the health law. (Karen Tumulty, Washington Post)

THE REPUBLICAN HEALTH-CARE PLAN IS ALMOST HERE, AND ALWAYS WILL BE: There's no plan out there that is both ideologically acceptable to conservatives and politically defensible. (Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine)

  • House GOP leaders plan to meet Friday to discuss an Obamacare replacement. (Daniel Newhauser, CQ Roll Call)

Research

RESEARCHERS TO CONGRESS: WE NEED MORE FUNDING TO FIGHT ALZHEIMER'S: "The disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only one of the top 10 without a treatment." (Sarah Mimms, National Journal)

ORGANIZATIONS URGE CONGRESS TO SUPPORT FEDERAL INVESTMENTS IN RESEARCH: "With President Obama's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal due next week and the appropriations season starting on Capitol Hill, a coalition of 14 business, higher education, and scientific organizations today launched a creative video that urges Congress to Close the Innovation Deficit with strong federal investments in research and higher education."

BLOOD TEST OFFERS SAFER, MORE ACCURATE PRENATAL TESTING FOR DOWN SYNDROME: "A study that evaluated the test in 1,914 pregnancies found that the test, which checks DNA, produces far fewer false alarms than the current screening techniques." (Rob Stein, National Public Radio)

Contraception

Some say Arizona's gay bill and Governor Jan Brewer's veto could have implications for the Supreme Court case on the ACA contraception mandate next month. Plaintiffs argue the health law's mandate to provide birth control to their employees violates their religious freedom.

SUPREME COURT COULD SOON OPEN THE FLOODGATES FOR MORE ANTI-GAY LAWS: If the court rules in favor of employers who object to providing birth control, the justices legal reasoning could open the door for more discriminatory legislation. (Dylan Scott, Talking Points Memo)

PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACTION FUND STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO ARIZONA VETO: "What's clear from the Arizona debate is that this is not a fight about religious liberties. It is about corporations who want a license to discriminate against people by denying services, taking away birth control coverage, and blocking access to health care. If Governor Jan Brewer can see that this is way too extreme, surely the U.S. Supreme Court can, too," said President Cecile Richards.

Happening Today

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY MEDICAL COUNTERMEASURE ENTERPRISE: The House Appropriations Oversight Subcommittee gathers at 10 a.m. in 2358-C Rayburn with federal agencies to evaluate preparedness and response.

COUNTERFEIT DRUGS: FIGHTING ILLEGAL SUPPLY CHAINS: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is holding a hearing at 10:00 a.m. in 2322 Rayburn. Among the federal agencies represented at the hearing are the FDA, Homeland Security and the GAO; others testifying include the Institute of Medicine, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly.

CARE INNOVATION SUMMIT: The Aspen Institute and the Advisory Board Company convene policymakers, providers, and leading innovators to explore opportunities to drive higher-value care and better health for individuals and populations.

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