OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: Burwell nomination heads to Senate floor

The Senate Finance Committee in a 21-3 vote overwhelmingly approved Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to replace Kathleen Sebelius as the next Health and Human Services secretary.

The only members to vote against Burwell were Republican Sens. Pat Roberts (Kan.), John Cornyn (Texas) and John Thune (S.D.).

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A final vote on Burwell’s nomination now moves to the Senate floor but a vote has not been yet been scheduled.

Before senators head out for a week-long break after Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee plans on marking up several appropriations bills, including a measure to fund the Food and Drug Administration for fiscal 2015.

The public advocacy group Public Citizen plans to hold a briefing, calling on Medicare to be expanded into a single-payer system.

Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Johnson (D-Texas) will hold a forum on mental health needs in minority communities.

According to Murphy’s office, panelists will discuss ways to expand inpatient and outpatient treatment options for minorities with serious mental illnesses like chronic and persistent schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major clinical depression.

Mental health bill sees setback: Murphy’s mental health bill, which was a response to the 2012 Newtown, Conn., school shooting, saw another setback this week as several Democrats withdrew their support.

The measure had already stalled over concerns about language endorsing involuntary treatment for those with serious mental illness.

Murphy quickly replaced two of the withdrawals with new Democratic supporters on May 20. The bill currently has 80 supporters, including 24 Democrats, a sign of Murphy's intense push for bipartisan support.

But more Democrats are likely to drop support amid pressure from outside groups.

Soaring drug costs: During a panel discussion held by The Atlantic, Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, warned that the government could take action over the high cost of special drugs. She urged stakeholders including drugmakers and pharmacy benefit mangers to work together to address the issue first.

Ignagni also said the increasing cost of drugs like the $1000 a pill hepatitis C drug Sovaldi threatens to “blow up” budgets for families, employers and state Medicaid funds.

Autism law in peril: Advocates for people with autism are divided over whether Congress should make major changes to a landmark federal program that is set to expire at the end of September.

The Combating Autism Act of 2006 was the first law passed by Congress that was unique to autism, and is credited by advocates with jumpstarting the national campaign — now symbolized by a puzzle piece — to treat and diagnose a condition that affects an estimated 1 in 68 children in the United States.

Autism Speaks, the largest autism advocacy group in the country, is backing legislation from House Republicans that would reauthorize the program and provide about $230 million in funding.

Halt ObamaCare subsidies: Republicans in the House are demanding all premium subsidies under ObamaCare be stopped until the administration can prove it is paying recipients the correct amount in each case.

Lawmakers wrote the Treasury Department citing a report that hundreds of thousands of people may be receiving incorrect subsidies on the exchanges and called it “outrageous.”

Fly-in alert: Skilled nursing and assisted living providers were on Capitol Hill Wednesday after hearing remarks from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in the morning.

Organized by the American Health Care Association, the more than 400 participants from 35 states urged lawmakers and staff to support repealing Medicare's therapy caps for outpatient physical, speech and occupational therapy.

The repeal was proposed as part of a bipartisan, bicameral bill to repair Medicare's flawed physician payment system, but lawmakers failed to pass that bill earlier this year.

THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE:

The Senate Appropriations committee plans to mark up a bill to fund FDA’s 2015 budget.

Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Johnson (D-Texas) will hold a forum to talk about mental health needs in minority communities.

STATE BY STATE:

La. Medicaid expansion killed, Jindal plan advances

Three Kansas Medicaid providers post losses of $110 million in first year

Mass. firm to pay millions over healthcare billing scheme

Kansas City man pleads guilty to $2.6M health care fraud

READING LIST:

Elderly may have trouble accessing online health records

Fear, MRIs tied to double mastectomy decision

It’s crunch time for Obamacare’s broken exchanges

Cost of healthcare for family of four now tops $23,000 per year

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED AT THE HILL:

Sen. Brown joins FDA sunscreen fight

FBI not changing rules on pot and personnel

Oregon officials subpoenaed after botched exchange site