OVERNIGHT HEALTH: All eyes on State of the Union

Another clue could come from the fact that Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber will be at the State of the Union as a guest. Kitzhaber is something of a pioneer in healthcare, and his state has a reputation for innovative approaches to both payment and delivery policy.

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The speech starts at 9 p.m.

Sebelius answers GOP: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius replied to Republican senators Tuesday after they wrote her last year with questions about how HHS handles stakeholder input on major regulations implementing the Affordable Care Act. Several Republican senators wrote to Sebelius about the number of regulations that offered 30 days for public comment — as opposed to the usual 60 days. Sebelius said in a response Tuesday that she is committed to ensuring adequate stakeholder input and accurately assessing the impact of new regulations. But a GOP aide said the response fails to "fully respond to the material concerns" raised by the Republicans.

The aide also noted that it took Sebelius 63 days to respond to the letter — longer than even the full 60-day comment period for complex rules implementing the ACA.

N.C. is a no: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) made clear Tuesday that he doesn't want any part of the coverage expansion under President Obama's signature healthcare law. McCrory said in a statement Tuesday that he opposes the law's Medicaid expansion, and also said he believes a federally run exchange is the best option — as opposed to a "partnership" between the state and federal government. States have until Feb. 15 to decide whether they're interested in the partnership model.

Healthwatch has the story.

Walker announcement coming: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will announce his decision on the Medicaid expansion Wednesday, and according to reports, he will reject the policy in favor of separate Medicaid reforms. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cited anonymous sources who said that under Walker's soon-to-be-public plan, 35,000 people would gain Medicaid coverage — a far cry from the estimated 175,000 who could enroll under the full federal expansion. Walker's reported choice does not jibe with guidance from the Obama administration that states must pursue the full Medicaid expansion in order to qualify for additional funds. The Journal Sentinel has more on Walker's apparent plan for "BadgerCare."

Sebelius and the AMA: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised doctors Tuesday for tolerating the challenges of a changing U.S. healthcare system. In remarks to an American Medical Association conference in Washington, D.C., Sebelius touted advances in accountable care organizations, bundled payment initiatives and other innovations for prompting "significant, measurable improvements in Americans' health." She also committed to push for repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula, and announced that a new national dialogue on mental health would begin within weeks. Read more about the speech at Healthwatch. 

Next on the schedule: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) will address the conference early Wednesday on sustainable growth rate reform and the Affordable Care Act's impact on doctors. Upton and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently unveiled a framework for a long-term "doc fix," and the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the effort Thursday. Read The Hill's coverage of the new "doc fix" framework here

Mandate injunction: Grote Industries of Indiana won temporary relief Tuesday under the Affordable Care Act's mandate that most employers cover birth control in their health plans. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to grant the injunction for the Catholic-run company, which manufacturers vehicle safety and lighting systems. Read more at Reuters.

Wednesday's agenda

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on the current flu season.

The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs will look at the state of mental healthcare for U.S. veterans in a hearing.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold an organizational business meeting Wednesday and also consider two bills: the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (PAHPA) and the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (Preemie) Act.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will examine comprehensive immigration reform.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will make an announcement related to the Affordable Care Act in Chicago.

The Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a policy discussion on health information technology.

NCQA will hold a webinar on accountable care organizations.


State by state

Ohio's treasurer bucks GOP governor on Medicaid

Medicaid expansion in Maine, Arizona provide case studies for Florida

Conflict policies for Medicaid differ among drug panels


Lobbying registrations

Rubin Health Policy Consulting / National Quality Forum


Reading list

Lawmakers, groups weigh in ahead of State of the Union

WellPoint names hospital executive as new CEO

Hospitals cut infection rates in 2011, CDC says


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Stars and Stripes: Bin Laden shooter eligible for military healthcare

Rockefeller, Brown push healthcare tax credit

Cancer research at 'crisis point,' advocates say


Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

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

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

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