OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: Senate panel to hear from VA nominee

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.

ADVERTISEMENT
Shinseki’s resignation was spurred by allegations that hospitals within the VA healthcare system had used secret wait lists to stall care for patients that critics say led to dozens of deaths.

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

 

TUESDAY’S SCHEDULE:

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

  

LOBBYING REGISTRATION:

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.

 

READING LIST:

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