OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Catholic leaders seek to rally HHS mandate opponents

Catholics for Choice recently criticized the "Fortnight for Freedom" effort as frivolous and unpopular after an assembly of U.S. bishops championed the effort during an assembly in Atlanta. The group also co-signed a letter with several other progressive Catholic groups that chided the bishops for their dogged focus on the birth-control mandate.

"Our views on many important issues often diverge with the views of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States," the letter read. "Unfortunately, the bishops attempt to portray their views as representative of ours in public discourse. ... They do not speak for us each and every time they lobby elected officials or attempt to influence public policy."

Polls find that a vast majority of Catholic women use and support birth control, putting the church in an awkward position. 

Costume store win: Planned Parenthood's political arm is sending a special surrogate out on the campaign trail to highlight the group's disagreements with Mitt Romney: a gigantic package of birth control. Dubbed "Pillamina" by the group, the costumed figure will follow the presumptive Republican nominee to draw attention to his objection to President Obama's birth-control coverage mandate. The effort highlights the breadth of Planned Parenthood's political action this election cycle, as women's health issues remain in the headlines and Democrats seek to solidify their lead among female voters. "Pillamina" is slated to appear in Troy, Mich., on Wednesday. Healthwatch has more.

Prescription drug agreement: A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers reached an agreement on a final version of the must-pass Food and Drug Administration bill, setting up a vote on the House floor Wednesday. The bill would reauthorize the FDA's user fee programs and make several changes in agency policy, mostly designed to get innovative products to market more quickly while promoting patient safety. The bill would save $311 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Healthwatch has more.

New numbers: Hey, did you hear that the healthcare law lets young people stay on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26? Well, the Health and Human Services Department trumpeted that policy once again Tuesday with a report that says 3.1 million young people are insured because of the provision. Republicans say the under-26 policy wouldn't be necessary if more young people could find jobs. Healthwatch has the story.

Wednesday's agenda

The Animal Health Institute holds a Capitol Hill briefing on veterinary issues.

State by state

California hospitals were paid twice for spinal surgeries.

Vermont might fare better than other states if the Supreme Court strikes down the healthcare reform law.

Prosecutors say a Miami man defrauded Medicare and sent the money to Cuba.

Lobbying registrations

Capitol Federal Strategies / Aspen Dental Management

Reading list

Hospitals will still be required to provide emergency-room coverage — paid for by taxpayers and the insured — if the Supreme Court strikes down the healthcare law, the Los Angeles Times notes.

The New York Times asks: What if the mandate doesn't matter?

Some changes will stay no matter how the Supreme Court rules, Kaiser Health News reports.

What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Dem bill would halt new mountaintop coal mines pending health study

Lawmakers push back on proposed insurance charge for seniors

Sens. Leahy, Grassley call on Supreme Court to televise healthcare ruling

News bites: Jockeying continues ahead of healthcare ruling, and more

Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

Elise Viebeck: eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523

Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch