Overnight Healthcare: Momentum on mental health? | Zika bills head to conference | Only 10 ObamaCare co-ops left

The leaders of a bipartisan mental health bill in the Senate are cheering some recent movement on their bill – though obstacles remain in both chambers.

Senators say they are optimistic that a bipartisan mental health reform bill can reach the Senate floor and pass soon, though they are still working out differences over guns and finances.


Multiple senators said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has told them that he is willing to put the bill from Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on the floor but that a consensus has to be built ahead of time so that consideration does not take up too much valuable floor time.

"Senator McConnell has said that if we can resolve, if we can find a consensus among ourselves and reduce the amount of time it takes to put it on the floor, that he will interrupt the appropriations process, put it on the floor, try to get a result this year," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said on the Senate floor.

Alexander said he is "very hopeful" that the bill could get on the floor in June.

Cassidy and Murphy held a summit Thursday during which advocates unveiled over 200,000 signatures on petitions pushing for passage of the bill. http://bit.ly/1WPV7bC

Time to merge Zika bills

The House took the first step Thursday to closing the gap between its $622 million Zika funding bill and the $1.1 billion package from the Senate. Members voice-voted to create a conference committee, which will officially kick off after next week's Memorial Day recess. http://bit.ly/1RuCSRk 

Batting for the GOP: Reps. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.) Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerHouse votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November Lobbying world House approves bill increasing federal worker pay MORE (R-Texas), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Jeff FortenberryJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FortenberryHouse Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death House Appropriations passes defense bill that would limit funds for border wall, pull US support from Yemen war Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill MORE (R-Neb.), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), Martha RobyMartha Dubina RobyHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Pelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House The Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers MORE (R-Ala.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.)

And for the Dems: Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), José Serrano (D-N.Y.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)

CDC director endorses Senate's Zika funding deal

Dr. Tom Frieden told a D.C. crowd on Thursday that he supports the Senate's $1.1 billion funding package, though it falls short of President Obama's $1.9 billion request.

Frieden said the Senate's package includes "nearly all of what CDC requested" – which was $828 million. "It would allow us to have a really great start," he said. http://bit.ly/1Z43XAP

Scariest thing you'll read today – superbugs

Department of Defense researchers have found the first antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the U.S. for the first time, and health officials are already saying goodbye to the antibiotic era.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, who has long warned against the overuse of antibiotics, said it could mean "the end of the road" for those types of drugs.

"We may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive-care units, or patients getting urinary tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics," Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday. http://bit.ly/1NQC9z2

Another co-op shutting down

There will now be just 10 of the original 23 ObamaCare co-op health plans left.

The Ohio Department of Insurance announced that the co-op, known as InHealth Mutual, will be shut down, forcing its nearly 22,000 enrollees to find other plans within the next 60 days.

The closure represents a significant disruption for the enrollees. The Obama administration and state regulators had worked to shut down any financially shaky co-ops before 2016 enrollment began on Nov. 1, in an attempt to avoid such failure in the middle of the coverage year.

But that is now happening in Ohio. The Department of Insurance said ObamaCare enrollees in the co-op plan should log onto the health law's marketplace in the next 60 days to select a new health insurance plan. Read more here. http://bit.ly/27Uq42x

Biden: Well, maybe it's not a 'moonshot'

In his latest appearance at a cancer research roundtable, Biden appeared to acknowledge the limited scope of his billion-dollar "cancer moonshot," which has been criticized as more of a slingshot.

The effort, he said in an offhand comment Thursday, was "probably inappropriately named."

In Capitol Hill news, Biden also hinted that he's making inroads with GOP leaders on his call for $1 billion in new research funding for cancer cures.

Biden said GOP committee leaders have been among his biggest supporters on the Hill, and those same Republicans are now "talking about meeting my request for a billion dollars." http://bit.ly/1WXQRHY



Health insurers have borrowed nearly twice as much money since the start of the Affordable Care Act, in part to cover losses tied to the law, according to a new analysis by A.M. Best (Fierce Health Payer)

Opioids are too widely available in the U.S., but scarcity is the biggest problem in other countries. (The Economist)

A new study found that just 39 percent of acute-care hospitals have antibiotic programs that meet all of the CDC's standards (Modern Healthcare)


CVS will begin selling an anti-overdose drug over the counter in seven more states, in addition to 23 states where it is already available (Baton Rouge Business Report)

Medicaid officials in Alabama said they were unaware of a provision in the state's 2013 budget law intended to benefit a client of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who is the subject of an ethics probe (Associated Press)

Abortion opponents in Oklahoma are trying to override the governor's veto of an abortion ban bill  (USA Today)


Democrats knocked their GOP counterparts on Thursday for failing to find an agreement on funding to fight the Zika virus, the opioid epidemic or aid for the Flint water crisis before leaving town for the Memorial Day recess. http://bit.ly/1TZhlC7

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