OVERNIGHT HEALTH: GOP prepares for Supreme Court's healthcare ruling

Read Toobin's whole piece here.

'Romneycare' emails surface: New emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal show Mitt Romney, formerly governor of Massachusetts, intimately involved in the construction and passage of healthcare reform in Massachusetts in 2006, on which the administration's national law is based. They also show Romney as a fervent defender of the individual mandate to buy health insurance — the provision that Republicans hate most about the federal healthcare law, which Romney calls intrusive and inappropriate.

The emails show that just before signing the bill into law, Romney drafted an opinion piece to run in The Wall Street Journal arguing that "a free ride on the government is not libertarian." A line that was not published, according to the Journal's report, read: "An uninsured libertarian might counter that he could refuse the free care, but under law, that is impossible — and inhumane." Romney aides also defended the mandate, pushing back when a Democratic proposal did not include it, and discussed singling out companies that did not provide sufficient health insurance to employees.

Read the Healthwatch write-up here and some of the emails themselves here.

Abortion rides again: Literally — in the Financial Services bill released by the House Appropriations Committee. One provision targeting the District of Columbia would bar city funds from paying for abortions except in the case of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) vowed to work with allies in the Senate to excise the provision while thanking the committee for funding many of her priorities. Every dollar that D.C. raises, Congress must approve for spending. The bill also includes $5 million for HIV/AIDs testing and treatment in the city.

The bottom line: In a new poll, 58 percent of employers surveyed said that a Supreme Court decision rejecting the entire healthcare law would be the best for their bottom lines. But 66 percent believe the high court will only throw out the individual mandate to buy health insurance, keeping other parts of the law intact — the outcome least likely to benefit them financially, they said.

Small businesses were most likely to say that a decision throwing out the entire law would be the best for them financially. Sixty-six percent of groups with 50 or fewer employees selected that outcome as the most favorable, compared to 46 percent of those with between 500 and 999 employees.

The survey, from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, also polled to find out which provisions of the healthcare law are most popular with workers, and found that allowing children to remain on their parents' healthcare plans until age 26 led the pack, with 59 percent support. The next most popular component, named by 34 percent of respondents, was the elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions from insurers.

More from Healthwatch here.

FDA loses, again: For the second time this spring, a court is ordering the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rethink its policy on the use of antibiotics in farm animals, which experts say contributes to drug-resistant superbugs and must be curbed. Judge Theodore Katz in New York told the agency to reconsider its denials of two petitions to restrict the practice, calling the rejections "arbitrary and capricious." Katz was also behind a March decision ordering the FDA to act on the concerns — a process regulators had started in 1977 but abandoned in December.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), a microbiologist and leading advocate for end the widespread use of antibiotics in farm animals, praised Katz. "I’m pleased to see the court holding the FDA’s feat to the fire on this,” she said. "The American people deserve to have their voices heard on this looming public health crisis."

The FDA appealed the first Katz ruling in a filing on May 21, eliciting criticism from Slaughter.

"Watching the agency tasked with protecting public health and well-being fight so vigorously against sound public health policy is a profound disappointment," the congresswoman said Tuesday. "I hope against all hope that the court’s ruling will prompt the FDA to act in the public’s best interests."

CMS rethinking analytics: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is launching an initiative to improve the transparency and utility of its data and, ultimately, its healthcare delivery. The effort, which takes cues from policies touted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, means the creation of a new Office of Information Products and Data Analysis that will make dissemination of data resources "a core function of CMS." These resources will include a comprehensive CMS Data Navigator, a dashboard for statistics on Medicare enrollment, and others.

Wednesday's agenda

The House Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services will mark up the FY2013 Financial Services bill, which includes a rider on abortion.

The 17th annual meeting of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research will conclude at the Washington Hilton.

The Health Data Initiative Forum III — or Health Datapalooza — will conclude at the Washington Convention Center.

State by state

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced his support for a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to the Albany Times Union.

About half of New Yorkers disagree with Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (I) ban on large sugary drinks, according to a poll. The Associated Press has more.

Minnesota is implementing a new rule intended to curb the prescription of psychiatric drugs to children. The Star Tribune has the story.

A settlement is in the work for victims of a nationwide listeria outbreak last year, The Associated Press reports.

Lobbying registrations

Hannegan Landau Advocacy / HealthEd Group

Reading list

Michael Leavitt, who will head Mitt Romney's transition team if the GOP contender becomes president, avoided talking politics in favor of obesity issues Tuesday. Kaiser Health News has the story.

Planned Parenthood is partnering with the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide birth control and other health services to students, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Morning-after pills do not, in fact, prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in a woman's uterus, according to The New York Times.

Johnson & Johnson will stop selling a type of surgical mesh used to address vaginal and pelvic organ prolapse after the company was hit with lawsuits, Reuters reports.

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