OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Dems prepare for battle as GOP readies Medicare overhaul

Republicans say it's Democrats who are leading Medicare to ruin by failing to keep federal health costs under control.

On the Medicaid front, Ryan is expected to recommend transforming the open-ended federal funding commitment for the program into a block grant, just as he did last year. This time around, the policymaking has already gone one step further, with the conservative Republican Study Committee already dropping a bill to give states maximum flexibility to run the program as they see fit. Healthwatch has that story here.

Happy birthday ACA: Democrats and their allies on Monday began a week-long celebration of the healthcare law's second anniversary with a coordinated push to defend its benefits for seniors ahead of the Ryan budget and Supreme Court oral arguments next week. 

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The White House and House Democrats touted the latest figures on how many Medicare beneficiaries have already benefited from the law, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched robocalls in 41 Republican districts attacking Medicare cuts that could result from Ryan's budget proposal. Simultaneously, the seniors' lobby AARP launched what it's calling its largest-ever outreach effort with ads and town-hall meetings in 50 states aimed at defending Medicare and Social Security. Healthwatch has the roundup here.

Next up, women: Day two of the ACA anniversary celebrations focuses on women, starting with a women's health discussion hosted by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a community health center in Miami at 8:45 a.m.

The carefully choreographed rollout of talking points was disrupted Monday after The New York Times reported on a new study from the National Women's Law Center that found women continue to pay "significantly more" for health coverage than men, a practice the healthcare reform law ends.

The Democratic National Committee quickly kicked into gear with a new online video slamming "Romney and the GOP" for "allowing health insurance companies to discriminate against women." And the National Women’s Law Center, in conjunction with more than 30 pro-reform groups, unveiled a new campaign, "I Will NOT Be Denied," which aims to "educate" women about the benefits of the healthcare law.

'Clean' IPAB: The House Rules Committee decides Tuesday which amendments will be allowed to come up for a vote on the House floor when lawmakers vote to repeal the reform law's cost-cutting board this week. Republicans are under pressure to allow a vote on a "clean" repeal bill, without the medical malpractice caps that have been proposed as a way to offset the repeal bill's $3 billion cost.

States rights' conservatives Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) have an amendment that would strike the medical malpractice language. And Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), one of 20 House Democrats who have co-sponsored IPAB repeal, released a statement urging Republican leaders to hold a clean vote.

"Linking this bill to tort reform — an unrelated, divisive, and partisan issue — is bringing what was once a bipartisan effort to a screeching halt," Schwartz said. "I urge the Rules Committee to reject this offset."

Drug shortages: A group of major healthcare systems and generic drug giant Hospira in a letter urged House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to pass legislation this year to address drug shortages. Their recommendations include using generic user fees that are being negotiated as a way to incentivize drugs that are susceptible to shortages. Drug shortage legislation is one of the few bills that has much of a chance of moving this year.

Blowing smoke: A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the Obama administration's right to require graphic warnings on cigarette packs and advertising under a 2009 tobacco law. Healthwatch has the story.


Tuesday's agenda

The House Education and the Workforce subcommittee on Workforce Protections will hold a hearing on regulations extending minimum wage and overtime rights to home healthcare workers. Nancy Leppink, deputy administrator of the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, will testify ahead of home care industry witnesses. Here's the agenda.

The House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will grill National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins on Obama's 2013 budget proposal, which flat-funds the NIH at $31.7 billion. Here's the agenda.

Your SCOTUS briefing fix: The Federalist Society hosts a noontime panel at the National Press Club at noon. Panelists include Randy Barnett, professor at Georgetown University Law Center; Walter Dellinger, of O'Melveny & Myers; former acting solicitor general and Georgetown University Law Center Professor Neal Katyal; and C. Kevin Marshall of Jones Day.

And Families USA follows suit an hour later with its own deputy director of health policy, Marc Steinberg; Daniel Dawes, executive director of Government Relations, Health Policy and External Affairs at the Morehouse School of Medicine; Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Civil Education Fund; and Tracie Potts, national correspondent, NBC News Channel.


State by state

Lawmakers in 12 states are debating bills restricting tanning bed use for minors because of the cancer risks. 

Sen. Ron Wyden's partnership with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Medicare reform is taking a toll on the Oregon Democrat.

Tennessee is mulling whether to make abortion data public.


Bill tracker

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced legislation to include devices in the postmarket risk identification and analysis system for prescription drugs and to expedite the implementation of the unique device identification system for medical devices (S. 2193).


Lobbying registrations

Heather Podesta + Partners / Accretive Health (educating policymakers regarding using technology to maximize the financial stability of healthcare providers)

Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associate / Crescendo Bioscience (molecular diagnostics laboratory focused on rheumatology)


Reading list

President Obama can't effectively campaign on his healthcare law because the public's opinion isn't going to change, The Washington Post says.

The Health Affairs blog asks why more states aren't pursuing a "prudent purchaser" strategy for their insurance exchanges.

Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, argues in an op-ed that the debate over the birth-control mandate is still about religious freedom.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Week ahead: Republicans poke holes in healthcare law as Dems celebrate two-year anniversary
— Report credits federal research with creating 432,000 jobs last year
— Groups urge FTC probe of vaccine ‘bundling’ by drug companies
— Murkowski wishes female colleagues had lobbied her against Blunt amendment


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Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com / 202-628-8527

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