OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Dems go on offense on ObamaCare

Democrats are going on offense with ObamaCare against Republicans, believing the GOP has overplayed its hand on the healthcare law.

On Tuesday, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius lambasted the Republican governors in five Southern states, singling out Gov. Rick Perry (Texas) in particular, for “playing politics with people’s lives” by refusing to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.

“That’s an outrage,” she said. “It should be a conversation in every community, in every town hall, in every church group and every PTA program to put pressure on the governors and legislatures to say, this is not acceptable.”

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On Medicaid, Democrats see an opening in the GOP-led states that are refusing federal government dollars to expand the program. A high percentage of those who would obtain Medicaid under an expansion are blacks and Hispanics, so the issue dovetails with the administration’s final enrollment push for ObamaCare, and hits the GOP with groups they’ve struggled to gain traction with.

Read more tomorrow at Healthwatch.

HHS backtracks on 7M pledge: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declined on three consecutive occasions Tuesday to say the Obama administration would meet the original goal of having 7 million people signed up for ObamaCare by March 31. In an interview with HuffPostLive, moderator Marc Lamont Hill directly asked Sebelius three times in a row if 7 million people will have enrolled in ObamaCare by the time open enrollment for 2014 ends. After dodging the first two times, Sebelius sought to diminish the importance of the figure.

“First of all, 7 million was not the administration,” Sebelius said. “That was a CBO, Congressional Budget Office, prediction when the bill was first signed. I’m not quite sure where they even got their number. Their number’s all over the board, and you know, the vice president has looked and said it may be closer to five to six. I’m more interested in what we are doing today: getting the word out to target populations.”

Healthwatch has the story.

'On track': The White House said Tuesday it wasn't worried it wouldn't be able to sign up enough young consumers on the ObamaCare exchanges, despite enrollment numbers that continue to lag behind initial projections.

"We believe, based on the data we've seen thus far, and based on the experience that Massachusetts had, in the closest thing to a model and precursor to the Affordable Care Act at a state level, that we will achieve that necessary demographic mix for the exchanges to work effectively," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "We feel, based on the data that we've seen and has been released, that we are on track to have the demographic mix that we need," he added.

The Hill has the details.

'Sucker punch': Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday said the Obama administration's latest report about the impact of ObamaCare shows the healthcare reform law will crush U.S. economic growth.

Boehner took to the House floor to respond to a report the administration released late Friday about the law — a report that House Republicans requested. He said the report shows that while Obama has said the law would reduce insurance premiums by thousands of dollars per family, the reverse is now expected to happen. Read more at The Hill's Floor Action blog.

Dems slam 30-hour bill: Democrats slammed a Republican bill to change ObamaCare's definition of full-time work to 40 hours a week after the Congressional Budget Office said the move would increase the deficit by $74 billion over 10 years and lead approximately 1 million people to lose their work-based health insurance.

House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) called the bill "reckless" in a statement and said it would shift more people into publicly funded healthcare.

"This estimate reveals just how dangerous the Affordable Care Act repeal agenda is to the American people," Levin said. "By essentially eliminating any requirement for businesses to contribute to the cost of health coverage, Republicans have just embraced a proposal to put wages and benefits at risk for a million or more hard-working Americans, while substantially increasing the deficit."

Manufacturers issue warning: Manufacturers on Tuesday warned that ObamaCare is putting millions of people at risk of losing their employer-based healthcare coverage. Jay Timmons, the CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said that, while a majority of his member companies offer health insurance to their employees, ObamaCare is making it more expensive for them to offer those benefits.

“Ninety-seven percent of manufacturers offer health coverage to their employees, but the healthcare law threatens their ability to provide these benefits by forcing them into a one-size-fits-all system,” Timmons said during his annual State of Manufacturing address, which he delivered in Houston.

Read more at The Hill's On the Money blog.

OFA launches final push: The group that arose from President Obama's reelection campaign is launching its final push to enroll the uninsured in ObamaCare's exchanges. Organizing for Action (OFA) announced Tuesday that its "Last Call" campaign will involve new social media tools and ground efforts by volunteers around the country. Healthwatch has all the details.

New rules for sugar drinks: First lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday will unveil a new set of proposed rules that would scale back the marketing of sugary drinks and junk food at America’s schools, during an event with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the White House. Under the proposed rules, companies would be limited in what products they could advertise on signs, vending machines, cups and menu boards on school grounds.

According to the White House, the food industry spent nearly $150 million in 2009 on marketing in schools, with 93 percent of that money promoting the marketing of beverages.

“The idea here is simple — our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food,” the first lady said in a statement. “Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn’t be undone by unhealthy messages at school.” The Hill has the story.

 

Wednesday's schedule

The House Education and Workforce subcommittee that governs health will hold a hearing on self-insured health plans.

The House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee will hold a hearing on proposed regulations in Medicare Part D.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on executive overreaching, which is sure to give Republicans a chance to attack ObamaCare.

The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on whistle-blowers and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Senate Appropriations subcommittee that governs healthcare spending will look at the economic and personal toll of Alzheimer's disease in a hearing.


State by state


Republicans seek political cover to accept Medicaid expansion money

Maine GOP lawmakers craft Medicaid expansion bill

Utah House committee approves Medicaid expansion alternative


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