OVERNIGHT HEALTH: GOP budget bill under fire for cuts to children

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a Catholic, has fielded similar attacks in the past. He said Monday in committee that "compassion for those in need" should be measured with "outcomes," not "inputs."

"Are these programs working? Are people getting out of poverty?" he said. "[The Office of Management and Budget] told us that last year Medicaid made $22 billion in improper payments. … That's more than my state's budget in wasteful spending. So the program is not working."

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The House is expected to approve the bill — likely to see no progress in the Senate — on Thursday. Healthwatch has more on the back-and-forth over children's health cuts.

Prescription drug act passes: A bill to reauthorize Food and Drug Administration user fees cleared the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health subcommittee on Tuesday with bipartisan support. The panel approved the FDA bill by a voice vote, clearing the way for a full-committee markup Thursday. Lawmakers from both parties are trying to get the bill taken care of quickly, and so far they’ve been able to avoid any major controversies.

Prevention battle: The Senate on Tuesday defeated Democrats’ bill to freeze interest rates on student loans, turning the focus back to House Republicans’ proposal to pay for the lower rates by raiding part of the Affordable Care Act. The House GOP bill would rescind the entire Prevention and Public Health fund, which Democrats strongly oppose, even with their alternative off the table.

“College seniors who graduated in 2010 carried an average of $25,250 in student loan debt; meanwhile, approximately 15% of young adults have a chronic disease, millions of whom stand to benefit from the Prevention Fund’s evidence-based programs targeted at improving our nation’s health status. To force our young people to choose between a healthy future and an affordable education is unconscionable,” Democratic senators said in a letter to Senate leadership Tuesday.

HHS touts 'innovation awards': Health and Human Services said that it has distributed its first set of "innovation awards," a program created by the 2010 healthcare law. The effort aims to make healthcare more affordable by rewarding projects seen as cost-saving pioneers. The first 26 grantees are expect to reduce health spending by $254 million in the next three years, a release stated.

One project would help fund a program in Minneapolis-St. Paul that aims to serve high-cost Medicaid patients more efficiently. Two others would employ tele-heath technology to extend high-quality care to rural areas in Georgia and pediatric practices in Cleveland. Healthwatch has more here

Too many choices: States should use their new insurance exchanges to narrow down the number of plans consumers can choose from, according to an analysis published in the journal Health Affairs.

The article says states should follow Massachusetts’s example as they create their exchanges. A hands-on exchange with the power to set standards on top of the federal healthcare law will help prevent consumers from being “overwhelmed” by the process of buying insurance, the authors wrote. Healthwatch has more.

Utah boats longest wait for an abortion: Utah now has the U.S.'s longest waiting period — 72 hours — for women who plan to have abortions. The measure's original sponsor, state Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy), called it a "consumer-protection law."

"The focus of this bill is women having time to consider all of the information that is given to them when facing a life-altering decision that somebody else is making money off of," he told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Planned Parenthood of Utah Director Karrie Galloway disagreed, calling the law a "point of heartache" for some Utahns.

South Dakota was the first state to pass a 72-hour waiting period, but the law's implementation was blocked with a court challenge.


Wednesday's agenda

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing on "Budget and Spending Concerns at HHS."

The House Ways and Means Health subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Medicare durable medical equipment competitive bidding program.

Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Joe Heck (R-Nev.) will hold a discussion on a new Medicare reform bill.

Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) will hold a press conference with a Planned Parenthood official and representatives from Republican Majority for Choice on his new "Protecting Women's Access to Health Care" Act. 

The National Community Pharmacists Association will hold a rally in Upper Senate Park with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.). In case of inclement weather, the rally will be held at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will give remarks at an event at the National Press Club for the Healthy Schools Campaign and Trust for America's Health. She will also speak at an evening event for National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day to be held at George Washington University. 


State by state

The New Hampshire Senate will vote Wednesday on a bill to make causing the death of a fetus equivalent to murder, the New Hampshire Union-Leader reports.

Emergency rooms in Ohio will abide by new guidelines limiting the distribution of pain pills, the Dayton Daily News reports.

A federal judge in California will rule on whether a state plan cutting payments for adult day health services can proceed, California Healthline reports.

Family members who care for veterans will receive iPads as part of a pilot program integrating specialized apps into VA healthcare, Modern Healthcare [registration required] reports.


Lobbying registrations

JM Burkman & Associates / Food Facts, Inc.

Richard Miller / American Naturopathic Association

The Friedlander Group / The Myelin Project


Bill tracker

Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) introduced legislation to "expedite the development and review of breakthrough therapies."


Reading list

The Ninth Circuit ruled that it lacks authority to order improvements in mental healthcare for veterans, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The first drug to prevent HIV infection in at-risk patients could soon see FDA approval, The Associated Press reports.

One in five doctors reports being stalked by a patient or former patient, MedPage Today [registration required] reports.

The United States ranks 25th worldwide on conditions for mothers, according to an annual report. The Los Angeles Times has the story.

Doctors are stepping up efforts to screen for Type 1 diabetes, The Wall Street Journal reports.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Franken chides embattled medical debt collector for dragging feet on questions

Panel calls for more active federal role in fight against obesity


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

Elise Viebeck: eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523

Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch

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