OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: GOP blocks anti-Hobby Lobby bill

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill that would have reversed the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby and required companies to offer birth control coverage to employees.

Democrats pushed the legislation in response to the high court ruling allowing employers to decline to offer birth control coverage in health plans if it conflicted with their religious beliefs.

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Three Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Ill.), voted with Democrats, but the bill fell short of the 60-vote threshold, by 56-43.

Democrats have jumped on the birth control issue, believing it will help turn out female voters in November’s midterms.

Read more: http://bit.ly/1rrtzaR.

 

GOP LAWSUIT: Legal experts clashed over the GOP’s plan to sue President Obama for executive overreach in a hearing on Wednesday.

Law professors Jonathan Turley and Elizabeth Price Foley told the House Rules Committee that the lawsuit raised legitimate concerns and could help Congress counter the growing power of the executive branch.

But legal experts called by Democrats criticized the planned suit, saying the president had the authority to make minor adjustments to the law’s rollout.

The GOP lawsuit is challenging the administration’s delays to ObamaCare’s employer mandate, which requires larger businesses to provide health insurance to workers or pay a penalty.

The House Rules Committee will vote next week on authorizing the lawsuit, with the full House expected to pass the measure before lawmakers depart for the August recess.

Read more: http://bit.ly/1zJz1KM.

 

LAWMAKERS PRESS CDC ON SAFETY: House lawmakers on Wednesday told Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that his agency needs to step up its response to safety breaches after recent scares involving anthrax and avian flu.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, noted at an oversight subcommittee hearing that the CDC's 2012 response to problems at Atlanta labs also included improved staff training, reviewing safety measures and assigning a single official to oversee lab safety.

“These measures sound very similar to the corrective actions Dr. Frieden outlined last Friday to address the current lab crisis," Upton said. “Why should we believe this time that things will be different?”

Frieden said in the past the CDC has responded to safety breaches by trying to fix the problems as they emerged, but it failed to recognize a pattern within the agency over its attitude regarding safety.

He said the agency is now implementing measures to improve its culture of safety by updating protocols and encouraging workers who see breaches to come forward.

Read more: http://bit.ly/1qHHYhK.

 

MORE DANGEROUS PATHOGENS?: Hundreds of abandoned vials labeled with names such as "dengue," "influenza" and "Q fever" were discovered in a lab on the campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the government disclosed Wednesday. 

The discovery marks what appears to be the latest in a troubling string of safety lapses at government health agencies involving anthrax, avian flu and smallpox. 

Pressure is mounting for agency heads to explain the incidents, and lawmakers are increasingly skeptical that current safety procedures are working well.

Federal health officials said there is no evidence anyone was exposed to the biological agents. They would not estimate Wednesday how many vials in the latest unearthing contained viruses that were dangerous or lethal. 

The vials have been transferred to the Department of Homeland Security for safekeeping, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which runs the lab where the discovery took place. Read more: http://bit.ly/1oYTKVe.

 

O-CARE HEARING GETS HEATED:  House Democrats got heated Wednesday in a hearing about problems with ObamaCare applications, as Republicans failed to get their desired answers from witnesses.

"Time after time in this committee, what we do is look for ways to simply attack the [healthcare] law," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in a fiery statement nearly five minutes long.

"If there were a good faith effort to find and fix some of the problems that are in the Affordable Care Act, I would be happy to participate in any way. ... But I don't feel like that is the spirit of these hearings."

Republicans, meanwhile, slammed witnesses from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general's office, who said repeatedly they did not have the expertise to respond to certain questions.

Read more: http://bit.ly/1rrtzaR.

 

THURSDAY'S SCHEDULE:

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding another hearing in its 21st Century Cures initiative, focusing on using new technologies to improve medical innovation.

Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), will speak at an AdvaMed event at the National Press Club where the medical device lobby group is set to present a new report on how medical technology has reduced healthcare costs.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging is holding a hearing to talk about preventable deaths and ways to improve patient safety.

 

STATE BY STATE:

Massachusetts lawmakers take up bill on abortion clinic buffer zones: http://reut.rs/1jyE7EP

Number of Texans enrolled in Medicaid up by 80,000: http://bit.ly/1jQD1or

Fallout from Hobby Lobby decision puts Brown NH Senate bid in tight spot: http://bit.ly/1r4wZko

Obamacare had 'nothing to do' with Cancer Centers of N.C. closing: http://bit.ly/1nxtfSW

Florida first in Medicaid coverage for mentally ill: http://bit.ly/1ysEFQ3

 

LOBBYING REGISTRATION:

Cyrus M. Jollivette Public Affairs LLC/ OPKO Health, Inc.

MWW Group/ CareerSource North Central Florida

MWW Group/ Cyrus M. Jollivette Public Affairs, LLC

Tarplin, Downs & Young, LLC/ Sarepta Therapeutics

 

READING LIST:  

New challenge for Obamacare: Enrollees don’t understand their insurance plans: http://wapo.st/Wi7HEA

HHS to judge: Don't revisit lawsuit we lost: http://bit.ly/1mMY0Yz

Number of people with HIV unchanged since 2012:http://bit.ly/1ysFIPQ

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED AT THE HILL:

Will Boehner find friendly court?: http://bit.ly/1r4fC3m

Anti-abortion PAC blasts 'radical' birth control vote: http://bit.ly/1jQEtac

Cruz: Dems 'wage war' on Catholics: http://bit.ly/1tStxx7

Planned Parenthood hits GOP candidates on birth control: http://bit.ly/1t4ORLt

McConnell: ObamaCare is what limited women’s choice: http://bit.ly/WbLGa3

White House endorses Dems' birth control access bill: http://bit.ly/1rrF2Hm

Colon cancer survivors blast Medicare 'loophole’: http://bit.ly/1kwIxaz