OVERNIGHT HEALTH: It's SCOTUS time


'Ironclad': Democrats sought to take the offensive on healthcare Wednesday, saying the high court ruling would be a clear indication if the nation's highest court is partisan or impartial.

"We'll find out this week if the Supreme Court is listening to the American people and following the U.S. Constitution," said Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, "or if it's becoming more and more what we've seen in the past: a partisan body no different from the Congress."

Democrats in the White House and Congress insist the law is constitutionally "ironclad," in the words of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But the reaction from a number of the justices during oral arguments in March has led to rampant speculation that the high court will shoot down at least a portion of the statute — a move that would leave other key provisions in question. The Hill has the story.

All we do is win: You know how small children like to make up games with arbitrary rules, and somehow they always end up winning those games? That’s basically everyone’s political strategy for responding to the Supreme Court. Both Democratic and Republican strategists will say they won if their side actually wins, and will also claim to be the real winners if they lose. The Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza has a concise rundown of the spin you’ll hear tomorrow.

'Plan B': Rep. Peter Welch is eyeing a "Medicare-for-all" proposal in response to a potential decision by the Supreme Court to roll back President Obama's healthcare reform law. The Vermont Democrat is hoping his proposal will serve as the Democrats' answer to the lingering question of what Congress would do if the high court were to strike down the individual mandate, the broad Medicaid expansion, or any combination of provisions included in the reform law. It’s a Plan B the Democrats say GOP leaders don't have. Read more from The Hill.

Passing the hat: Democrats are also using the Supreme Court's expected ruling Thursday on President Obama's healthcare law to raise campaign funds. The House Democrats' campaign arm on Wednesday said if the court strikes down Obama's law, "Democrats will need to redouble our efforts, fighting to ensure universal healthcare that's affordable and accessible to every American is a reality." It also warned that a decision against the law means "dangerous Tea Party extremists will go on a rampage."

The email to supporters from former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) said that if healthcare reform stands after Thursday's ruling, Republicans "backed by super PACs and shadowy front groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS" will do "everything in their power to defeat President Obama." If the GOP wins the election, they will "dismantle the [healthcare] law piece by piece," the email said. Read more from Healthwatch. 

To market: Health regulators have approved the United States's first obesity drug in 13 years — "Belviq" from Arena Pharmaceuticals. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for use in adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or great or those with a BMI of 27 or greater, plus a related health problem. Arena will be required to conduct post-marketing studies, including one to ascertain if Belviq increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Two other obesity drugs are also pending federal approval. Reuters has the details.

Remembering Stupak: Former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) made a lot of people mad during the healthcare debate before the bill was signed into a law. He insisted on strong anti-abortion language, which Democrats didn’t like on the merits. And Republicans were upset when they realized that Stupak was, in fact, focused on abortion, not on trying to kill healthcare. He retired after the battle was over, but his former constituents still seem to like him. The Seattle Times has this dispatch from Stupak’s expansive former district, where one resident said: “Stupak took a beating for following his conscience. He followed his conscience and did the right thing as he saw it.”

Bonus round: Match the following health details to the correct Supreme Court justice. Because it's all trivia, right?

DIABETES — CORONARY STENT — PUNCTURED LUNG — CANCER — SMOKING — SEIZURES — CURVY SPINE

Someone's wife is also a pediatric psychologist. Get your answers here


Thursday's agenda

Seriously?


State by state

South Carolina's House could not override a veto by Gov. Nikki Haley (R) of a bill to provide free HPV vaccinations, The Associated Press reports.

Republicans in Missouri are calling Gov. Jay Nixon (D) a flip-flopper now that he is voicing opposition to the individual mandate, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's (D) administration said healthcare costs are "eating up more and more of everyone's dollar," the Boston Herald reports.

The re-industrialization of Pennsylvania is going to take a toll on residents' health, said an editorial in the Patriot-News.

A bill awaiting the governor's signature in New York state would require healthcare providers to notify women who have dense breast tissue that could interfere with mammogram testing, the Albany Times Union reports.

Ohio's new Medicaid contracts are on hold, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

An effort to privatize inmates' healthcare in Florida might not succeed, The Miami Herald reports.


Lobbying registrations

ML Strategies / The Alliance of TBI & NHTD Waiver Providers


Reading list

Kaiser Health News rounds up the groups will be working overtime to spin Thursday's Supreme Court decision.

Fifty thousand teenage girls die each year worldwide because of pregnancy and childbirth complications, Agence France-Presse reports.

Dementia complicates nursing-home romances, according to NPR.

Diets that promote few carbs and lots of protein may pose risks to women's hearts, MedPage Today reports.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Poll: Americans dislike health law, healthcare status quo

Poll: Many would have 'mixed reaction' to Supreme Court ruling on health law

Reps. Price, McMorris Rodgers to lead GOP response to healthcare ruling


Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

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

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

Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch