Healthcare Friday

"Although the FDA has made progress highlighting the risks of using Avandia by severely restricting the drug, it did not go far enough," Wolfe said. "Too many people could still be exposed to this dangerous product."

The group has advocated for an outright ban on the drug.

Part D rates projected to skyrocket: Seniors enrolled in some of the leading Medicare prescription drug plans should prepare to switch plans or be hit with double-digit premium hikes, according to an analysis released Thursday by Avalere Health. 

"Beneficiaries are going to need to be savvy consumers and shop around to find the plan that’s best for them," Avalere CEO Dan Mendelson said in a statement.

A Pledge short on solutions: To much fanfare, House Republicans on Thursday unveiled their "Pledge to America," a 21-page document outlining the GOP's plans to shrink the government and rein in deficit spending. A glaring omission from that blueprint, however, is how the party intends to control entitlement costs, which happen to be the single most significant driver of federal deficits.

Asked about the omission Thursday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) punted the fix to an unspecified future.

"I don't have all the solutions," Boehner said. "But I believe that if we work with the American people, the American people will want to work with us to come to grips with these challenges that face our country.

"It's about having that adult conversation in an honest, open way that'll get us the answers to lay out the plan that will solve this problem once and for all."

Dems celebrate launch of Patient's Bill of Rights: The insurance reforms at the heart of the new healthcare law started to take hold Thursday, and Democrats missed no opportunity to mention it. 

"Today is the day that the worst abuses of insurance companies come to an end in America,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday on Capitol Hill. "It’s long overdue for millions of Americans who now will have some peace of mind." 

Beginning this week, insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage for sick kids, set lifetime coverage limits or use technical errors to drop patients when they get sick. The law will also allow young adults to remain under their parents' coverage up to age 26, and require all new plans to cover a minimum set of preventive care services.

Clean out your medicine cabinet: The Drug Enforcement Agency this weekend is sponsoring a drug "Take Back" campaign, designed to prevent prescription drug abuse by offering thousands of sites nationwide where folks can drop their expired, unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals. 

Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) will host a press call Friday to introduce the event.