Read more about that timeline and the GOP's criticism at Healthwatch.
Other implementers: GOP senators are calling for the White House to release details about how 21 federal agencies are helping to implement or promote ObamaCare. The issue has been a source of criticism for Republicans for months, particularly since Education Secretary Arne Duncan said his department has a team devoted to the healthcare law. In a letter Thursday to White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, the senators said the actions represent a "cost to taxpayers" and suggested they're against the law.
Rate increase in Ohio: Ohio's GOP insurance commissioner is projecting a marked increase in health insurance rates under ObamaCare, adding fuel to the debate over how the healthcare law will affect premiums. The state insurance department announced Thursday that individual health policies in Ohio will cost an average of 41 percent more next year. Plans available to small businesses will cost 18 percent more on average, officials said.
The figures reflect averages of all the plans that will be available in the individual and small-group markets, not the price consumers will be asked to pay. ObamaCare's individual and small-business insurance exchanges are designed to offer a range of choices to consumers, from cheaper to more expensive plans.
Healthwatch has more on the announcement.
Townhall turf battle: It's going to be an all-out war over the August recess as groups on both sides of the ObamaCare spectrum seek to dominate the discussion at townhall events. The conservative Heritage Action will be holding a tour with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to push its government shutdown threat, while Americans United for Change and Protect Your Care, both pro-ObamaCare groups, will argue their message at GOP townhalls. Organizing for Action is also launching its "Action August" campaign on Sunday, Obama's birthday, with events devoted to the healthcare law.
Read more about the Heritage Action campaign at Healthwatch.
Who will benefit most from ObamaCare? The Center for American Progress, which supports the law, has a list of the 30 counties that stand to reap dividends because of high numbers of uninsured residents. Twenty-two are in Texas. See the report here.
Another repeal bill: Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), who is running for Senate, introduced a bill Thursday to repeal ObamaCare and introduce a variety of reforms, including premium-assisted Medicare, 100 percent deductibility for health expanses and tax incentives to encourage care for the indigent. Broun's measure would also phase out CMS altogether. Read the text here.
Today in mental health: Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee are asking for input on how to expand access to mental health services in Medicare and Medicaid. Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) solicited ideas for improving outcomes in an open letter to the mental health community Thursday.
"Failure to address mental illness negatively impacts society," the lawmakers wrote. "Individuals with serious mental illness are more likely to have chronic medical conditions and on average die earlier than other Americans." The letter can be found here.
User fee concerns: Eleven members of Congress are trying to find out what will happen to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fees after they're cut under sequestration. In a letter Thursday, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and others asked the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department to explain whether the fees will be held for eventual use or diverted for other spending. The lawmakers also wondered if the fees will gain interest.
"We fear that sequestering FDA user fees will have a negative impact on public health, the economy, jobs, and American innovation," the lawmakers wrote. "If the intent of sequestration is to limit public spending, withholding private monies is counterintuitive."
Eshoo is behind a bill that would exempt the user fees from sequestration, the automatic federal budget cuts that took effect in March.
Read about that measure at Healthwatch.
ICYMI: The conservative anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity sponsored an ad in The Washington Post featuring criticism of ObamaCare from union bosses. See it here.
And on the other side: The House Energy and Commerce Committee's top Democrat released a list of the "top ten Republican efforts" to thwart ObamaCare. In committee Thursday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) called the healthcare law Republicans' "white whale." Read his list here.
In the know: Federal health officials' latest effort to explain the Affordable Care Act is targeted at businesses in the form of a new website. Business.USA.gov/healthcare provides information about the law's rules and small-business tax credits. The site also offers an interactive feature where businesses can submit information and receive answers about the law.
Self-referral scams: A new report by government auditors found that an expensive treatment for prostate cancer is increasingly prescribed by doctors who stand to gain financially. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy services experienced a marked increase between 2006 and 2010 among doctors who self-referred, while the services decreased among doctors who would not benefit from prescribing them. Lawmakers like Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) pointed to the finding as evidence that the healthcare system "needs to reward the value of care, rather than the volume of treatments and procedures." Read the Government Accountability Office report here.
State by state
Texas may add another abortion reg in third special session
Florida begins statewide Medicaid managed-care plan
Miss. governor describes 'divine responsibility' to oppose abortion
Whistle-blower suit: Hospitals defrauded Medicaid
American Continental Group / Lowe's Companies
Atlas Advocacy / United Mine Workers of America
Forbes-Tate / Advanced Medical Technology Association
Forbes-Tate / ASC Advocacy Committee
Reed Smith / American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
Online insurance brokers get to play in federally run exchanges [free registration required
Liberal groups to counter anti-Obama healthcare efforts in August
Top French court backs stem-cell research
What you might have missed on Healthwatch
Republicans say IRS can't be trusted with ObamaCare data
Coburn lashes out at conservative groups over ObamaCare threat
GOP senator warns public of a 'barrage' of ObamaCare ads
Dems: Happy birthday to ObamaCare birth control mandate
Rubio: Defunding ObamaCare more vital than immigration reform
FreedomWorks pushes GOP to embrace ObamaCare shutdown threat
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