Overnight Healthcare: More trouble for Zika funding

Congress's only promising effort to boost funding to fight the Zika virus may be coming apart.

Senate Democrats warned Wednesday that the tentative bipartisan deal on the Zika virus is on verge of collapse after top Republicans went quiet in talks this week.

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The lead negotiator on the funding package, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators seek answers on surprise medical bills | Red states move to limit Medicaid expansion | Two drug companies agree to testify Senate Dems block Sasse measure meant to respond to Virginia bill MORE (D-Wash.), said she had not heard from her GOP counterparts on the Senate Appropriations Committee in about a week. She said the radio silence comes after multiple promising conversations about a funding deal.

"I was hopeful that we could make progress. But it has been nearly a week since we had those conversations," Murray told reporters Wednesday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy MORE (R-Miss.) had said last week that the funding package for Zika would reach a floor vote "in the near future." But the Senate's moves were seen as stepping over House Republicans, whose appropriations committee is locked in a battle with the White House over how much money is actually needed. More here: http://bit.ly/1SKZLny

Driving the day in health policy: The Obama administration took a step toward a massive, nationwide shift to value-based, rather than volume-based, doctor payments.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a 962-page regulation on Wednesday, which outlines how health officials will administer last year's landmark legislation known as MACRA. It's a long road ahead. Read more here. http://bit.ly/237mHzZ

POTUS heads to Flint: President Obama will make his first trip to Flint amid the city's water crisis for a first-hand look at its crumbling infrastructure.

He'll visit May 4. Obama made the pledge to visit in a letter to 8-year-old Mari Copeny, a Flint resident who wrote to him about the crisis. More here: http://bit.ly/1SKV3pR

Heavy lobbying for Zika response: Fifty-seven companies, organizations, trade groups and universities have lobbied on the Zika virus in the first few months of this year.

Those groups include the U.S. Travel Association, the March of Dimes, the National Pest Management Association, GlaxoSmithKline and Vanderbilt University.

The March of Dimes has taken the lead on public health advocacy, bringing together an informal coalition of more than 40 organizations whose members comprise patients and doctors. More here: http://bit.ly/1rzPTEG

Wyden introduces bill to cap Medicare drug costs: Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Dem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' Dems introduce bill to take gender-specific terms out of tax code to make it LGBT-inclusive MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, on Wednesday introduced a bill aimed at protecting seniors from high drug costs, an issue that has attracted growing scrutiny. 

Wyden's measure would cap drug cost-sharing for Medicare enrollees so that seniors would not have to pay out of pocket costs above a roughly $7,500 cap.

In 2013, 2.9 million people in Medicare's prescription drug program had to pay costs above that cap, Wyden's office said. More here: http://bit.ly/1TeNdCk

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on mental health at 2 p.m. http://1.usa.gov/1T5A0vb

WHAT WE'RE READING

House Dems push back on Obama plan to cut drug prices – Democrats are circulating a letter that warns of "unintended consequences" with the proposal to shake up Medicare Part B reimbursement. (Huffington Post)

Insurers expand Hepatitis C drug coverage after NY probe – Seven insurers, including Anthem Inc., agreed to cover more treatments after many were accused of denying hepatitis C claims because of high costs. (Bloomberg News)

IN THE STATES

Arkansas lawmakers drop effort to override governor on Medicaid: The state Senate will not try to override Democratic Gov. Asa Hutchinson on his line-item veto of a bill that would have ended Arkansas' Medicaid expansion. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette):

Tennessee to appeal federal order on abortion recount: A federal judge had ordered a recount of the controversial ballot initiative, which passed with a 53 percent majority in 2014. (The Tennessean)

ICYMI FROM THE HILL:

House bill would create cybersecurity official at HHS – The bill from Reps. Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) is a response to five breaches at the agency over the last three years http://bit.ly/1SKpqwv

 

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