Healthcare Thursday

Republicans, according to the memo, should highlight the number of businesses affected by the provision (estimated at 40 million); argue the new paperwork will hobble companies ("A Nebraska small business estimates the mandate will cost $23,000/year"); and warn the new $600 purchasing threshold will cause businesses to consolidate their suppliers, "in which case smaller suppliers would lose out."

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) has proposed a full repeal of the filing requirement, while Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has offered an alternative that would scale it back.

The Republicans intend to argue that Nelson's version picks "winners and losers with thousands of businesses still subject to the job-killing mandate."  

A cloture vote on the Johann's bill is scheduled for next Tuesday, and the Senate is expected to move to the Nelson bill immediately afterward.

Unveiling last year's health coverage numbers: The Census Bureau on Thursday, Sept. 16, will release new figures outlining poverty, income and health coverage trends in 2009. In response, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will host a conference call with reporters later in the day.

A weighty cost issue: The gap between health costs for obese Americans and those of normal weight has grown enormously during the past two decades, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported Wednesday. In 1987, obese Americans cost an average of 8 percent more to treat; in 2007, the figure was 38 percent. 

The yawning gap, CBO says, "probably" has a number of causes, "including changes in the average health status of the obese population and technological advances that offer new, costly treatments for conditions that are particularly common among obese individuals." http://bit.ly/cbVHBq

Conservatives launch ad campaign attacking health reform supporters: Revere America (yes, that Revere) launched a seven-figure ad campaign Wednesday targeting vulnerable Democrats who voted in favor of healthcare reform. The conservative group hasn't named its dozen-or-so targets, but says the ads will begin airing later this month. http://bit.ly/cwTuu3

A liberal group plans a counter-attack: The Health Information Campaign plans to spend $2 million on ads touting the benefits of the health reform law. The first spot focuses on the insurance reforms set to take effect Sept. 23. http://bit.ly/ckZKfl

Florida docs versus the AMA, cont'd: The Florida Medical Association (FMA) on Tuesday officially aired its problems with its national counterpart, the American Medical Association, sending a letter reiterating FMA's "serious reservations about the AMA’s effectiveness and its ability to represent the physicians’ interests." The letter followed last month's FMA decision not to drop out of AMA, but to send a message of no confidence instead. http://bit.ly/bYDxJz

This post was updated at 11:00 a.m. Thursday.