Healthcare Tuesday

Dem healthcare leaders face off against a tough audience in Montana: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met a tough crowd Monday in Libby, Mont., where audience members accused the Democrats of not reading the bill they wrote (among other things).  

"The questions seemed to put Baucus off guard," The Associated Press reported. 

"Mark my words, several years from now, you're going to look back and say, 'Well, that wasn't so bad after all,' " Baucus said, according to the AP.

While most healthcare lobbies have reduced spending, the docs jack it up: The American Medical Association, the nation's largest doctors' lobby, spent $4.2 million lobbying in the second quarter of the year — up from $3.7 million in the first quarter. 

That bucks the trend exhibited by many other medical lobbies, which have toned down their lobbying efforts post-reform. Of course, those other industries aren't facing a 23 percent Medicare cut in December. 

Meanwhile, White House reaches out to doctors: The Obama administration is asking the nation's doctors to put aside their frustrations over Congress's failure to fix their Medicare payment formula, and instead embrace healthcare reform.

"The uncertainty surrounding the sustainable growth rate policy is a distraction and potentially a barrier for some physicians to embrace the Affordable Care Act," Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine. "But physicians should not let their frustration ... distract them from improvements that health care reform delivers to their patients and the profession."

Federal judge puts temporary halt to expanded stem cell research: The Obama administration's expansion of embryonic stem cell research hit a wall Monday when a federal judge ruled that the president's 2009 executive order violates a ban on the federally funded destruction of human embryos. 

The decision was cheered by anti-abortion groups like the Family Research Council, whose president, Tony Perkins, issued a statement calling the ruling "a stinging rebuke to the Obama Administration and its attempt to circumvent sound science and federal law."

But many scientists have been left scratching their heads. "I have had to tell everyone in my lab that when they feed their cells tomorrow morning, they better use media that has not been funded by the federal government,” George Q. Daley, director of the stem cell transplantation program at Children’s Hospital Boston, told The New York Times. “This ruling means an immediate disruption of dozens of labs."

No shocker here: Bombarded by conservative horror stories about the new healthcare reform law, Americans are increasingly insecure about their access to care.

Feinstein continues fight against BPA: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is urging California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to sign legislation banning the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in children's food and beverage containers. A toxic chemical linked to cancer, BPA is used in countless plastic products, including water and baby bottles. 

"More research is necessary to determine the harm that BPA poses to human health, but until we know more, we need to err on the side of caution and remove this potentially harmful substance from our products," Feinstein wrote to Schwarzenegger Monday.

A state bill prohibiting BPA in children's food products in California is expected to hit the governor's desk shortly.

Feinstein is also urging a similar ban nationwide, vowing to introduce an amendment to the food-safety bill Senate Democrats want to move next month when lawmakers return from summer break.

More funding for rural providers: The HHS on Monday announced $32 million in additional funds designed to ensure healthcare access for rural patients.