Healthcare Tuesday

Prostate cancer advocates unveil congressional agenda: The prostate cancer community will make five requests from lawmakers today as they mark Prostate Cancer Awareness Month with a weeklong "Advance on Washington."

The asks:

- Increase the National Cancer Institute’s $5 billion annual budget to accelerate basic and treatment sciences research for human prostate cancer from $294 million to a transparent $400 million;

- Increase the appropriation for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program for Prostate Cancer at the Department of Defense to $120 million from $80 million;

- Establish an Office on Men’s Health (OMH) in the Department of Health and Human Services equivalent to The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) established in 1991;

- Create a Prostate Cancer Scientific Advisory Board for the Office of the Chief Scientist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to accelerate real-time sharing of the latest research data and accelerate movement of new medicines to patients;

- Create human capital by launching more careers of the best and brightest scientists in the U.S. to solve the prostate cancer problem.


Find out more here.


Healthcare 'no' vote garners trouble: In a break with the election-year theme of lawmakers running away from their support for healthcare reform, some unions are keeping their pledge and spending money to defeat Democrats who voted against the bill. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for one is spending almost $300,000 on direct mail and other activities to replace Rep. Stephen Lynch (Mass.) with union activist Mac D'Alessandro in today's primary. http://bit.ly/9ruKLu



Good news for the 'yes' crowd? The pro-reform advocacy group Families USA releases a new report today assessing how many people will be eligible to participate in what it calls "the historic middle-income tax cut" that is health reform. The report, titled "Lower Taxes, Lower Premiums: The New Health Insurance Tax Credit," highlights:

- By income level, how many Americans will be eligible for the new tax credit;

- The number of Americans eligible for the new tax credit who are in working families; 

- The number of Americans eligible for the new tax credit who work for small business with fewer than 100 employees; 

- The number of insured Americans who are struggling with health coverage costs and who will receive assistance through the new tax credit; and

- The number of Americans who are currently uninsured and will be able to afford coverage due to the new tax credits.

Check back with us after 11 a.m. for a fuller review of the new report.


Medical device user fees under review: Under the premise that it's never too early to start hearing complaints about proposed fees and taxes, the Food and Drug Administration holds a public meeting today on renewing medical device user fees. Legislative authority for the program expires in September 2012, and new legislation will be required at that time for FDA to continue collecting the fees. http://bit.ly/d0qEAp


Administration presses Congress, states on AIDS: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday told the largest AIDS-related gathering in the U.S. that Congress needs to approve $30 million in funding in the president's 2011 budget "this month before they leave town. We don't have any time to waste". http://bit.ly/bYYtEq

The administration has come under pressure from some AIDS advocates who are seeking $126 million in extra funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program to help some 2,100 low-income patients on waiting lists in states across the country. The administration has already reallocated $25 million for the program. On Monday, Sebelius said states, drug makers and other partners should also do their part to keep the program funded and affordable.

"We’re also talking to states to make sure they understand that even in these difficult times, we should not balance our budgets on the backs of Americans with HIV and AIDS," she said. "And we’ve reached out to our partners in the pharmaceutical industry, businesses, foundations, and community-based organizations to make sure they continue to do their part as well."


School sports unsafe? Watch for House Democrats to propose health and safety standards for schools following a field hearing Monday on the risks of concussions in high school sports. The Education and Labor Committee's subcommittee on healthy families and communities heard from physicians, athletes and trainers who all agreed on the need for better education about the risks of concussions, how to avoid them and how to ensure safe care after such injuries. 

Some 400,000 concussions occurred in high school athletics in the 2008-2009 school year, the panel said; and studies estimate that 40 percent of athletes return to play too soon after their injuries.

"The risk of concussions for millions of the nation's young people who play high school sports has received too little attention," subcommittee Chair Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "We must change the 'warrior mentality' culture that discourages immediate treatment, and I look forward to working with Chairman [George] Miller (D-Calif.), [Education and Labor member Tim] Bishop (D-N.Y.) and my colleagues on how we can address this issue." http://bit.ly/9Ez0kL


Latino mental health issues analyzed: Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, led a discussion with a panel of experts Monday on a range of mental health challenges facing the Latino community. These include: stigma preventing many from seeking help, lack of access to linguistically and culturally appropriate services, and the chronic shortage of qualified mental health professionals.

Napolitano spoke at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's public policy conference. She is the author of the Mental Health in Schools Act, which would provide on-site, culturally appropriate mental health therapy and counseling in schools.