OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Dems float alternative mental health bill

House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled an alternative to a sweeping mental health overhaul from Republicans, further complicating a reform push that was already at risk of failing.

The wide-ranging bill from Rep. Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberPrinciples and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words Giffords to lawmakers avoiding town halls: 'Have some courage' Ten House seats Dems hope Trump will tilt MORE (D-Ariz.) abandons a series of aggressive and controversial steps proposed by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) that are intended to empower family members coping with extreme cases of mental illness.

In its place, the Democratic measure proposes new federal initiatives to help prevent and treat mental illness. The Democratic bill also contains specific measures to boost care for schoolchildren, veterans and seniors, and urges increased research on serious mental illness.

Democrats said their measure was not intended to throw sand in the gears of Murphy's bill, which GOP leaders have failed to advance in its current form.

Murphy attacked the alternative measure as doing little to help the seriously mentally ill.

“The Democrat bill will do nothing to prevent the next Jared Loughner, James Holmes, or Adam Lanza because it does nothing to help those with serious mental illness," Murphy chief of staff Susan Mosychuk said in a statement. Read more here


Clinton bemoans O-Care polls: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE on Tuesday blamed Obamacare’s low poll numbers on politics and the news media, and claimed that many people had not been informed about the law’s benefits.

“A small majority of Americans don’t like the Affordable Care Act,” the former secretary of State and possible presidential contender said at the 2014 National Council for Behavioral Health Conference. “But a large majority of Americans don’t want to do away with many of the provisions in the act.”

Despite Democrats’ claims that ObamaCare’s approval will rise after last months sudden surge in enrollment, polls show the healthcare law is still unpopular with a majority of Americans. Read more here.


Cheaper anti-overdose drug: Clinton also told the audience that the Clinton Foundation is trying to use its clout to make the anti-opioid overdose drug naloxone more affordable and accessible.

She said her family’s foundation is using lessons they learned to get cheaper HIV drugs in Africa as a template to make naloxone more available in the U.S. Read more here.


Issa wants payback: House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is demanding the federal government take back almost $61 million from the state of New York. The state wrongfully charged Medicaid for room-and-board costs as part of a program to help the developmentally disabled.

In March, Issa’s committee put out a report charging that New York falsely claimed $15 billion Medicaid dollars between 1991 and 2011. Read more here.


Calls to sack Shinseki: Republican lawmakers are demanding the head of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric Ken ShinsekiDem demands Trump provide potential death toll for war with North Korea House approves VA bill, sending it to Trump Senate backs bill making it easier to fire VA employees MORE amid reports that up to 40 people died while waiting for treatment in VA hospitals.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) has said called for investigation on whether the allegations are true.

The White House on Tuesday said that President Obama supported Shinskei and had confidence in his ability to fix problems in the VA system. Read more here.


Cancer drug prices: The cost of cancer drugs has doubled in the past decade according to a new report. The report by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, finds the average brand-name cancer drug in the U.S. costs $10,000 a month, up from $5,000 in 2003. The report also says costs of such drugs are typically 20 to 30 percent cheaper in European countries where governments negotiate prices with the pharmaceutical industry. Read more here.



BakerHostetler will hold its annual legislative seminar.

The Senate Appropriation’s Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will hold a hearing with HHS chiefs to discuss the agency’s budget.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on ObamaCare enrollment numbers and the health insurance industry.

A Senate Special Committee on Aging will convene to discuss the fight against cancer.

The Atlantic and the National Council for Behavioral Health will convene the first eHealth Executive Summit, to discuss innovations to treat mental health and substance abuse treatment.

The American Hospital Association will close its annual meeting.

The National Council for Behavioral Health will close their annual conference.



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