Friday is the deadline for states to decide whether they're interested in a partnership exchange between the state and the federal government. The Obama administration has pushed the partnership model aggressively, especially for states that weren't entirely opposed to a purely state-run exchange but simply didn't have the time to get one ready.
The partnership is an attractive model, at least on paper — it allows states to retain some control over their exchange, which will be the anchor for many states' individual and small-group markets. But it doesn't require Republican governors to fully buy into "ObamaCare," a law that remains deeply unpopular with their base.
Rough day: Gary Cohen, Health and Human Services's top implementation official, caught some friendly fire from Senate Democrats on Thursday. Cohen was grilled about several perceived holes in the implementation effort, and about the White House's bargaining position during recent debt talks. Rep. Bill Nelson (R-Fla.) was upset that the White House offered up health insurance co-ops as a source for cuts in the year-end tax deal. And Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) took up states' frustration with the slow progress implementing the law's Basic Health Plan. Healthwatch has a full report from Cohen's rough day before the Senate Finance Committee.
Liberals lobby Obama on Social Security: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said pressure from congressional Democrats caused the White House to drop its support for raising the Medicare eligibility age, and she's hoping to repeat that success with the "chained CPI" in Social Security. Obama is open to the Social Security cut, but Schakowsky said she's trying to make the case to White House officials that chained CPI will have a real impact on seniors — especially in tandem with Medicare cuts the administration also supports. Healthwatch has more.
Sequester and the flu: Democratic leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a "Dear Colleague" letter Thursday warning that budget sequestration would endanger vital public health work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the panel's ranking member, and subcommittee ranking members Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) highlighted federal work to track and inhibit the seasonal flu virus — the subject of a hearing this week. "Advances like these and other essential public health services will be threatened if we don’t act quickly to prevent sequestration," the lawmakers wrote.
Bill surge: Congress is flooded with new and returning health bills. Here are a few:
• From Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), a Medicare-for-all bill
• From Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), bills to permanently repeal caps on therapies from skilled nursing centers
• From Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-Fla.), bills to prohibit the transportation of minors across state lines to procure abortions
• From Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a bill to provide grants for comprehensive sex education programs
• From Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Lautenberg, bills to fine pharmacists that refuse to fill prescriptions they disagree with
• From Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), bills to allow veterans' kids to stay on their parents' VA health insurance until they turn 26
• From Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.), resolutions designating March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) will hold a press conference on her Mental Health in Schools Act, joined by Los Angeles Laker Metta World Peace and other lawmakers.
State by state
Liberal groups push for lower Medicare drug prices
CDC finds rise in use of 'morning-after' pill
MedPAC chief warns of Medicare payment crisis
Insurance lobby huddles with White House on ‘reasonable rates’ requirement
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