By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 07/21/14 06:56 PM EDT
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the nomination of Robert McDonald for VA secretary.
McDonald is a former Procter & Gamble executive who was nominated for the position after former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned.
Independent investigations have found systemic misconduct throughout the VA healthcare system, and the FBI is in the midst of a criminal investigation.
McDonald is expected to win confirmation, but will also likely face tough questions about the problems at the agency and his plans for reforming the troubled health care system.
Lawmakers are also racing to confirm McDonald before lawmakers go on their August recess.
On Monday, in an address to veterans, Vice President Joe Biden warned Congress to “stop fooling around” and quickly confirm McDonald and reach a compromise VA reform bill.
MURRAY BACKS NEW BIRTH CONTROL BILL: One of the Senate's leading women is throwing her support behind another bill to strengthen access to birth control following the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision.
The move by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) comes as Democrats prepare to use women's health issues against Republicans in the midterm elections, with legislation unlikely to move on Capitol Hill.
Murray and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) already proposed a bill to block the high court's decision, but it failed to advance last week after opposition from Republicans.
The latest measure, Sen. Cory Booker's (D-N.J.) "Access to Birth Control Act," is a longstanding proposal to require that pharmacies help women fill prescriptions for birth control.
The legislation is directed at individual pharmacists who choose not to fill birth control prescriptions because of their moral or religious views. Read more: http://bit.ly/1wSguYs.
SUNSHINE SITE PLAGUED BY ERRORS: A long-awaited federal database designed to reveal doctor payments from the drug and medical device industries is plagued with confusing error messages, according to a report.
Physicians told ProPublica that they are seeing long waits and error messages when trying to look up their entries on a preliminary version of the Open Payments website.
"Doctors say it is taking them as long as an hour, sometimes longer, to verify their identifies and log in," reported Charles Ornstein with ProPublica.
Those who make it through the system and do not have relationships with industry are reportedly met with the message: "You have the following errors on the page. There are no results that match the specified search criteria."
A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the message indicates the doctor has no reportable ties to drug and device manufacturers. Read more: http://bit.ly/1zYIVbI.
CVS: $1,000 PILL WORTH IT: CVS Caremark is siding with the pharmaceutical industry over the rising costs of specialty drugs.
In an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS, and William Shrank, the company’s chief scientific officer, defended Gilead’s hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which costs $1,000 a pill.
Brennan and Shrank say the drug’s value should include its effectiveness compared to other treatments, how it improves quality of life for patients and how it can reduce the overall cost of healthcare.
“While a daily oral medication that costs $1,000 per pill gains attention, the more important issue is the number of people eligible for treatment,” they said.
They point out previous hepatitis C treatments had terrible side effects and were less effective, leading doctors to hold back from prescribing them.
They also note that while Sovaldi has a monopoly on the market right now, a half dozen new hepatitis C drugs are excepted to be available in the next 4 years and will likely drive down the cost of the drug as competition increases. Read more: http://bit.ly/1yS5Eoi.
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on the nomination of Robert McDonald for secretary of the VA.
CDC Director Thomas Frieden is talking about critical health issues during a luncheon at the National Press Club.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding another hearing in its 21st Century Cures series, this time to talk about barriers to healthcare communication.
STATE BY STATE:
NC gov makes pitch for Medicaid reform: http://bit.ly/1o1YlH3
Feds may be for Alabama's All Kids program: http://on.mgmadv.com/1nObnDp
Scott Walker defends choice not to expand Medicaid: http://bit.ly/1lnvQyI
Missouri alone in resisting prescription drug database: http://nyti.ms/1sGeBAE
Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C./ RWC-340B
The Glover Park Group LLC/ AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP
The McManus Group, DBA Antimicrobial Innovation Alliance/ Johnson & Johnson
Capitol Counsel LLC/ Salutopia, Inc.
DC Legislative and Regulatory Services, Inc./ Society of American Florist
Keller McIntyre & Associates/ Anne Arundel Medical Center
Keller McIntyre & Associates/ Cox Health
Keller McIntyre & Associates/ Fairfield Memorial Hospital
Keller McIntyre & Associates/ Garrett County Memorial Hospital
Keller McIntyre & Associates/ HelpMeSee
Keller McIntyre & Associates/ Islamic Relief USA
Keller McIntyre & Associates/ The Wright Center
Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C./ 21st Century Oncology
Rubin and Rudman LLP/ Novocure Inc.
Breaux Lott Leadership Group/ Medtronic, Inc.
Healthcare tax credits become tax woes: http://tnne.ws/1tqvGvP
Narrow networks under ObamaCare depressing physician pay: http://bit.ly/1kN6N8x
Docs slam recertification rules as waste of time: http://bit.ly/1navPST
Johns Hopkins Hospital settles suit with women filmed by doctor: http://reut.rs/1k8Lofi
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED AT THE HILL:
Democrat wants FDA ban on marketing e-cigs to children: http://bit.ly/1ncDiB1
Lab mishaps spark warning over ‘lethalized’ pathogens: http://bit.ly/WsPlR5
Dutch HIV/AIDS researcher mourned: http://bit.ly/1lnvAjq
Report: Top Florida insurer signals premium hikes: http://bit.ly/1pvJC5j