Overnight Healthcare: Biden’s billion-dollar bet against cancer

The Obama administration announced Monday that it will ask Congress for nearly $1 billion to ramp up cancer research in its proposed budget next week.

Most of the extra dollars would go toward the National Institutes of Health (NIH), while also boosting resources for the Food and Drug Administration, administration officials said Monday.

While lawmakers from both parties voted to increase NIH funding last year, this year's funding increase will be harder to sell. For starters, it's a far bigger number – amounting to $755 million over the next year, not including $200 million out of this year's budget.

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The upcoming budget season is already more challenging for Republican leaders, who have committed to balancing the budget within a decade. With last month's more grim budget outlook, GOP leaders will have to find areas to trim costs.

Still, the administration's proposal could attract support from Republicans who have already backed the House Energy and Commerce Committee's "21st Century Cures" initiative. That bill, which already passed the House but is not expected to get a Senate vote, calls for big funding increases to the NIH but also major reforms of the FDA.

The $1 billion funding request would directly support Vice President Biden's "moonshot" bid to cure cancer -- a massive government-wide effort that was announced during last month's State of the Union address. That group, which includes five cabinet secretaries, met for the first time on Monday. Read more here: http://bit.ly/23EX8tc

WHAT WILL IOWA THINK OF 'TRUMPCARE'? Republican presidential frontrunner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpEPA removes climate change page from website Trump claims millions in savings on Air Force One Presidents with the worst first 100 days MORE is confident about his plan to replace ObamaCare – but is also being extremely vague.

In an interview with ABC's "This Week" this weekend, Trump said he would "work something out" when it comes to building from scratch a new healthcare system.

Facing increased scrutiny about his previous endorsement of single-payer plans, Trump was careful to say that his system would care of "somebody who has no money and they're lying in the middle of the street and they're dying." But that's about specific as he would get.  

"We're going to work with our hospitals," he said. "We're going to work with our doctors. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1P1f09T

Ted CruzTed CruzTrump in campaign mode at NRA convention Trump’s hands are tied on 9th Circuit Schumer: Trump's handling of North Korea 'all wrong' MORE HAS AN AWKWARD OBAMACARE MOMENT OF HIS OWN: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the nation's most ardent foes of ObamaCare, briefly went silent when asked how he would help people who have gained coverage for the first time because of the law.

A man in Iowa asked about his brother-in-law, who gained coverage for the first time because of ObamaCare, and how Cruz would ensure that people can keep coverage after repealing the law. The man said his brother-in-law never saw a doctor for years, and when he did seek medical help was found to have multiple incurable tumors.

When pressed twice on his answer, Cruz replied: "There are millions of stories on the other side," and described people who had lost their insurance plans or saw their coverage levels decline because of the law. Read The New York Times report here: http://nyti.ms/1P1id9A

ZIKA IS OFFICIALLY 'GLOBAL EMERGENCY':  Leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday elevated the threat level posed by the mosquito-borne disease.

While the virus causes mild symptoms resembling dengue fever in healthy adults, it can be dangerous for pregnant women and has been linked to birth defects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week that a major Zika virus outbreak is unlikely in the U.S., though the Obama administration has pledged to step up education and research efforts. Read more here: http://bit.ly/203JhrP

AETNA HAS 'SERIOUS CONCERNS' ON OBAMACARE SUSTAINABILITY Aetna's chairman and CEO said Monday that the country's third-largest health insurer had "serious concerns" about the sustainability of ObamaCare's marketplaces.

"We continue to have serious concerns about the sustainability of the public exchanges," Mark Bertolini said on an earnings call Monday, according to prepared remarks.

He said the company remained concerned about "the overall stability of the risk pool."

Many insurers, including Aetna, have been losing money on the ObamaCare marketplaces, also known as exchanges, in part because of a sicker and more costly mix of enrollees, known as the "risk pool." Read more here: http://bit.ly/1nJa1lB

 

COMMITTEE UPDATES:

Bipartisan members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have requested briefings on the Zika virus from administration officials

ON TAP TOMORROW

The Hill hosts an event on healthcare quality measures, featuring Rep. Michael BurgessMichael BurgessObamaCare repeal: GOP seeks new game plan Ryan transfers record M to House GOP's campaign arm in March ObamaCare gets new lease on life MORE (R-Texas).  

WHAT WE'RE READING:

Huckabee defends Trump's abortion flip-flop (Buzzfeed)

Uncomfortable question for Ted Cruz on Obamacare silences the room (New York Times)

ObamaCare's third enrollment season draws to a quiet close (Washington Post)

IN THE STATES:

Medicaid edges out political agendas in New Mexico (Associated Press)

Indiana hospitals boosted by Medicaid expansion

ICYMI FROM THE HILL:

USDA doesn't food-borne illness to 'intercept' your Super Bowl: http://bit.ly/1NN1WAX

Pentagon proposes medical benefits for transgender troops: http://bit.ly/1PQCwdt

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