OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Obama digs in on entitlements

President Obama used his second inaugural address Monday to make clear that he sees politically popular entitlement programs as sacrosanct commitments, and won't sign on to reforms that would weaken that commitment. Obama nodded toward the importance of reducing healthcare spending, but he also took the opportunity to push back against Republican rhetoric framing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as unaffordable.

"The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us," Obama said. "They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."

Healthwatch has the story.

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Amgen's big win: Amgen scored a major lobbying victory in the recent fiscal-cliff deal, The New York Times reported over the weekend. The deal included a provision delaying federal price restrictions on Sensipar, a drug Amgen makes for patients on kidney dialysis. The Times story is here.

Roe anniversary: The 40th anniversary of the landmark abortion-rights decision Roe v. Wade is Tuesday. Planned Parenthood marked the occasion over the weekend with an anniversary/inauguration party, and the other side of the debate will take its turn as well. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), one of Congress's most outspoken abortion-rights opponents, is planning a news conference to discuss legislation on the 40th anniversary of Roe.

Regs coming: The Office of Management and Budget is reviewing regulations on "minimum essential coverage" — the benefits health plans must offer for policy-holders to comply with the law's individual mandate. The OMB notice specifically refers to exemptions spelled out in the law, as well as the process for determining household income and eligibility for tax subsidies. Healthwatch has more.


Higher ed, higher costs: Colleges and universities are the latest to cut employees' hours — adjunct professors, in this case — to avoid the healthcare law's employer mandate. The Wall Street Journal and Inside Higher Ed have recently taken a look at the trend, saying several schools have begin capping adjunct professors' workload at 30 hours per week so they won't have to provide the instructors with health benefits. But advocates for teachers don't think it's about healthcare at all. Healthwatch rounds up the latest.


Tuesday's agenda

The House Democratic Gun Violence Prevention Task Force will host a briefing and panel discussion on mental health in the United States. 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider several bills, three related to healthcare: H.R. 297, to reauthorize a program that supports medical residency programs in children's hospitals; H.R. 235, to make it easier for some military veterans to become emergency medical technicians; and H.R. 225, to allow the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund pediatric research networks.

The National Organization for Women will hold a vigil at the Supreme Court marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.


State by state

Medicaid cost sharing will be hot debate in Nevada

Arizona to tax hospitals to pay for Medicaid

ADHD rates creeping up in California

ICYMI: Easiest path to mental health funding may be Medicaid expansion


Lobbying registrations

Hance Scarborough / Alliance of Independent Pharmacists

Republic Consulting / RAMM Technologies

Williams Mullen / Owens & Minor

Ogilvy Government Relations / MedImmune

Republic Consulting / Bates Capitol Group

Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock / MetLife Group


Reading list

For 'Obamacare,' four more (uncertain) years

Skilled nursing to face further Medicare cuts from 'cliff' deal

AMA wants docs trained for teams, safety [free reg. req'd]

Tough flu season hits elderly hard

The next pandemic could trigger a global recession



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

—This post was updated Tuesday.