OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Administration backs down on Plan B

“This decision allows the abortion industry to gamble with young girls’ health in distributing a life-ending drug, with no real understanding of the long-term implications on their bodies. Equally troubling, this allows young girls pressured into sex or even abused by adults to be manipulated into taking pills that cover up what is a criminal act.

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“Young girls need medical supervision in taking such a potent and potentially life-ending drug,” Yoest said in a statement. “The implications for informed consent — and the long-term health impact on women of all ages — are deeply troubling.”

Planned Parenthood fires back: In a Huffington Post op-ed Tuesday, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards emphasized that age restrictions on the sale of Plan B were never grounded in scientific concerns about the drug's safety or effectiveness.

Richards also pushed back against social conservatives who say Plan B causes abortion, noting that the FDA classifies the drug as a contraceptive.

"For years, we've seen misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding the debate over Plan B and other forms of emergency contraception. To be clear: Emergency contraception does not end a pregnancy," she wrote. "In fact, every major medical institution, including the FDA, states unequivocally that Plan B One-Step and other types of emergency contraception are safe, effective forms of birth control that work by postponing ovulation — they do not, and cannot, induce an abortion."

The full op-ed is available here.

Abortion restrictions challenged: The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Tuesday in an effort to block new abortion restrictions in Alabama. The state requires abortion providers to have staff privileges at a local hospital. That requirement would force three of the state's five abortion clinics — including two Planned Parenthood clinics — to stop providing abortions, the ACLU said.

Healthwatch has the story.

Abortion markup: The House Judiciary will mark up a bill from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) banning abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy across the country. An original version would have only applied to Washington, D.C., but Franks said he was compelled to rewrite the legislation after a Philadelphia abortion provider was convicted of killing several infants born alive after failed abortions.

The legislation is based on the disputed premise that fetuses can feel pain by 22 weeks' gestation, and is expected to pass the House next week. Similar bans at the state level have been challenged in court, and opponents argue they are unconstitutional. 

More trouble for the IRS: A top House committee launched another probe of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tuesday after a lawsuit alleged that the agency improperly seized millions of personal medical records in California. In a letter, Republican leaders on the Energy and Commerce panel asked the IRS to explain how it handles confidential medical information and cited its forthcoming role in implementing ObamaCare.

The lawsuit in California alleges "corruption and abuse of power" by 15 unnamed IRS agents who purportedly stole more than 60 million medical records while investigating the former employee of a healthcare provider. That provider was not named.

Healthwatch has the story

Walgreens settles: The nation's largest pharmacy chain is paying a record-setting $80 million to settle allegations that it allowed drugs like oxycodone to be purchased for abuse and to be sold on the black market. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on Tuesday announced that Illinois-based Walgreens was settling claims that its negligence violated the Controlled Substances Act. In settling the claims, Walgreens is admitting that it failed to uphold its obligations under the law.

According to the DEA, six Walgreens pharmacies and its distribution center in Jupiter, Fla., did not uphold necessary safeguards, allowing prescription painkillers to slip into the marketplace.

Read more at The Hill's RegWatch blog.


Wednesday's schedule

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing to examine state perspectives on reforming Medicaid.

Law firm BakerHostetler will host a healthcare and tax policy seminar featuring speeches from more than a dozen lawmakers. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are among those scheduled to attend.

United for Medical Research and Battelle will release a report, "The Impact of Genomic on the U.S. Economy," at a briefing and panel discussion on Capitol Hill. National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins is scheduled to speak. 


State by state

Gov. Perry asks Teas legislators to approve 20-week abortion ban

Medicaid expansion could occur in red states in coming weeks [free registration required]

Colorado offers exchange 'assister' money to many groups


Reading list

Obama Plan B letter gets mixed praise from health groups

Why has the White House delayed so many health and safety rules?

Room for Medicare savings found in lab test prices [subscription required]


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Poll: Democrats hold edge on healthcare issues

Members propose bipartisan reforms to cut Medicare, Medicaid waste

NRCC hits Calif. Dems over ObamaCare rates

Tea Party turns on Mich. governor over Medicaid expansion


Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

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

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

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