OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Poll finds wide support for cheap birth-control access

The Obama administration's birth-control coverage mandate aims to expand women's access to affordable birth control. Opponents say it violates the religious freedom of people who object to contraception or consider some forms to be equal to abortion. 

Great expectations: Supreme Court insiders think the court will strike down at least part of President Obama's healthcare reform law — a change from their attitudes before oral arguments in the case. The conservative American Action Forum released a new survey Wednesday of former Supreme Court clerks and attorneys who have argued before the court. Fifty-seven percent said they expect the justices to strike down the individual mandate, up from just 35 percent who made the same prediction before oral arguments. Healthwatch has more on the survey's findings.

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At risk: A ruling against the healthcare law could be a death omen for uninsured Americans, according to prominent advocacy group Families USA. The group, which vocally supports the healthcare reform effort, found that more than 130,000 Americans died between 2005 and 2010 because of their lack of health insurance in a report released Friday. The group calculated that in 2010, the number of deaths due to a lack of coverage averaged three per hour and that the issue plagued every state, the report found. Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack called premature deaths among the uninsured "an American tragedy and an American shame." The healthcare law "lets us wake up from this terrible healthcare nightmare of premature death," he said in a statement. Read more from Healthwatch.

Is it in you?: American's largest organization of doctors advised that revenues taxing soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks be used to fight obesity but stopped short of supporting the taxes outright. The American Medical Association (AMA) pointed to research linking soda consumption to obesity and poor health. In a report, the group's Science and Public Health panel also concluded that increasing soda taxes by one penny per ounce would cut medical spending by $17 billion and obesity rates by 5 percent over 10 years. The revenues, the AMA suggested, could be used on anti-obesity education campaigns. An industry group slammed the whole idea as "misguided." Reuters has more.

House OKs FDA bill: The House easily approved a final compromise bill on Wednesday reauthorizing the Food and Drug Administration's user-fee program for brand-name drugs and medical devices and expanding that program to cover biosimilars and generic drugs. Both the House and Senate had approved similar versions of the bill — the House approved its version, H.R. 5651, in a 387-5 vote on May 31. Wednesday's passage sends the final compromise bill to the Senate, which is expected to quickly approve it and send it to the White House for President Obama's signature. Members approved S. 3187 in a voice vote after a brief debate in which both parties praised their rare and cordial bipartisan effort. The Hill's Floor Action blog has the story.


Thursday's agenda

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the provision of community-based services to Americans with disabilities.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the National Institutes of Health.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will hold a briefing on the end of the Supreme Court's current term.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will give remarks at the Center for American Progress commemorating the 40th anniversary of Title IX. 


State by state

California stands to lose as much as $15 billion annually if the healthcare law is struck down, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Baltimore Sun has a story on why Maryland is also bracing for the decision.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) vetoed a bill to allow the state's public health agency to provide free HPV vaccinations. The Associated Press has more.


Recent bill tracker

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced a bill to reform Medicaid's financing.

Reps. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) and Phil Roe (R-Md.) introduced a bill to prevent the Internal Revenue Service from enacting a rule related to the healthcare law.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to "require recordkeeping and authorize investigations and enforcement actions for violations" of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill to "establish a United States Boxing Commission to administer the Professional Boxing Safety Act."

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced a bill to provide veterans with genital and reproductive wounds with access to in vitro fertilization through the Veterans Administration. 


Reading list

The Pew Research Center found that most media coverage of the healthcare reform debate focused on politics and strategy rather than the substances of the plans.

Kaiser Health News runs through how Medicare beneficiaries will be affected by the looming Supreme Court ruling on healthcare reform. KHN also reported that if the law is struck down, women could see insurance parity go by the wayside.

New research suggests that light to moderate drinking among pregnant women might be ok, NPR reports.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Poll: Healthcare reform must stay on Washington's agenda

HHS touts health law for creating jobs, expanding care

House panel votes to limit abortion under Obama's healthcare law

Gov. Scott: Florida will comply if health law is upheld

Big ad buy targets Obama, health law in swing states


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


—A previous version mistakenly noted that the American College of Rheumatology would host a briefing Thursday, June 21. The actual date is Thursday, June 28.