Health Care

Overnight Healthcare: GOP wants AmeriCorps investigated over abortion support

A major recipient of federal grant money repeatedly broke the law by helping women seeking abortions, a government watchdog has found.

The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) spent years working with a New York City health organization that escorted young women to abortion clinics, which is a violation of federal funding rules.

{mosads}That program included six members of the federal community service program, AmeriCorps, The Hill first reported on Monday.

Those involved in the program, which took place at three clinics, violated a strict, decades-old rule that prohibits federal funding from supporting abortion services.

The misuse of federal funding – particularly by an organization whose members receive billions in federal dollars each year – is prompting a strong backlash among Republicans in Congress.

Even before the full release of the findings, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the head of a health appropriations panel, asked the Obama administration to investigate how community health centers nationwide are using their grants.  

It would be a vast effort: There are more than 7,000 community health centers in the U.S, totaling $3.7 billion in federal funding in 2013 alone, according to NACHC’s website. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1YSv5ST

GOP RIFT OPENS ON ZIKA FUNDING Congressional Republicans are split on whether to provide emergency funding to fight the Zika virus.  

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) cast doubt on the emergency request Tuesday, saying he thinks the issue should be dealt with through the regular appropriations process. That would mean new funds would have to wait until Oct. 1.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are working with Democrats towards a deal that could make new Zika funding available well before Oct. 1.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Appropriations health subcommittee, has been negotiating with Senate Democrats, but also talking to House Republicans about a way forward in that chamber.

“I think the House is not where we are yet in terms of dealing with this issue, and I’d like to see them get a little further along,” Blunt told reporters Tuesday.

Blunt has been in talks with Democrats about a roughly $1.1 billion bill, which is less than the White House’s request of $1.9 billion, but would still provide an infusion of new funds. Read more here. http://bit.ly/1Qz779e

THE END OF CLEAN, CHEAP WATER? Check out our deep dive on the national water supply as part of The Hill’s special issue on energy and the environment:

Hundreds of cities and towns are at risk of sudden and severe shortages, either because available water is not safe to drink or because there simply isn’t enough of it.

The situation has grown so dire the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence now ranks water scarcity as a major threat to national security alongside terrorism.

The problem is being felt most acutely in the West, where drought conditions and increased water use have helped turn lush agricultural areas to dust.

But dangers also lurk underground, in antiquated water systems that are increasingly likely to break down or spread contaminants like lead.

The crisis gripping Flint, Mich., where the water supply has been rendered undrinkable, is just a preview of what’s to come in towns and cities nationwide, some warn.

“We are billions of dollars behind where we could and should be,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who spent 12 years on a municipal water board before running for state office. “People in the clean-water world would tell you they’ve been shouting about this for a long time.”

“For much of the U.S., most people don’t perceive any shortage,” he added. “But we’re going to talk a lot about shortages now.” Read more here http://bit.ly/1rgawoE

THE HILL EVENT: Join us on Wednesday, May 11 for Targeted Cures: A Policy Discussion on Treating Patients with Rare Diseases, featuring Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). Topics of discussion include: The public-private partnerships developing and delivering cutting-edge treatments and the path to making care accessible to the patients who need it most. Sponsored by PhRMA. RSVP here.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

Democratic leaders will hold a joint press conference calling for Zika funding at 1:30 p.m.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will resume a markup of more than a dozen bills on opioids at 10 a.m.   

The Senate Aging Committee holds a hearing on drug pricing featuring the CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals at 3:30 p.m.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Advisers to FDA vote against muscular dystrophy drug (New York Times)  

Trump cherry-picked data about insurance rates under ObamaCare (Huffington Post)

Centene, unlike UnitedHealth, is profiting from ACA (ModernHealthcare)

What every woman needs to know about Zika, from the CDC (Time)

 

BEYOND THE BELTWAY: 

West Virginia Medicaid payments may falter if budget not reached (Charleston Gazette)

Missouri rejects federal funds to keep Planned Parenthood out of state (Joplin Globe)

 

ICYMI FROM THE HILL:

FDA should ban powdered caffeine, Dems say http://bit.ly/1rg7bWS

Senate Dems: Skip break, pass Zika funding http://bit.ly/1Qz8jJH

House Dems introduce $2B funding bill for Zika virus http://bit.ly/1SvwHhv

  

Send tips and comments to Sarah Ferris, sferris@digital-stage.thehill.com, and Peter Sullivan, psullivan@digital-stage.thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @thehill@sarahnferris@PeterSullivan4

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