Healthcare Thursday

Meanwhile… Opponents of the bill are hosting events of their own in hopes of shifting Thursday's media focus away from the newly arrived benefits. 

In that vein, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is ringing in the six-month anniversary with a press call with small business leaders, who will air their complaints with the new requirements in the law.

The Chamber will also release a survey — conducted by the prominent pollsters Frank Luntz and Doug Schoen — outlining the various gripes small businesses owners have with the law.

Top White House officials enter the act: Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTop union offers backing for Ellison in DNC race John Kerry to teach at Yale on global issues Ellison needles Perez for 'unverifiable' claim of DNC support MORE and HHS Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusObama's health secretary to be first female president of American University Leaked email: Podesta pushed Tom Steyer for Obama’s Cabinet Romney: Trump victory 'very possible' MORE are marking the occasion as well, hosting a conference call to tout the law's benefits for seniors. The discussion, the White House says, will include "an important announcement" on efforts to reduce seniors' prescription drug costs. 

Evoking Newt… GOP leaders on Thursday will officially unveil their "Pledge to America," a legislative wish-list that devotes an entire chapter to repealing healthcare reform and replacing it with Republican alternatives.

Still, the proposed solutions, the New York Times reports, are without many details. "While the document emphasizes a goal of long-term fiscal stability, including reductions in the deficit and a 'path to a balanced budget,' it offers no specifics about changes to big entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare, that would be required to achieve such stability," the Times writes.

The early reviews from some conservative commentators aren't wildly enthusiastic either. "It is dreck," Erick Erickson wrote Wednesday. 

GOP leaders will release their Pledge Thursday at a lumberyard in Sterling, Va. http://nyti.ms/aOXPtX

Obama takes on the repeal advocates: President Obama on Wednesday slammed those pushing to repeal healthcare reform, accusing them of putting political gain above the nation's healthcare needs.

"It makes sense in terms of politics and polls," Obama said Wednesday at a healthcare event in Virginia. "It doesn't make sense in terms of actually making people's lives better." 

Top Republicans to check Berwick's pulse: Leading Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee have invited Donald Berwick to appear Thursday at a forum gauging how the Medicare chief has performed so far. 

The lawmakers — including Sens. Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleyFlynn told FBI he didn't talk sanctions with Russian envoy: report Gorsuch hearing date set for March 20 Judiciary Committee wants briefing, documents on Flynn resignation MORE (R-Iowa), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchPublic lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show Overnight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump vows to punish leakers | Cyber steers clear of tech versus Trump fight MORE (R-Utah) and Pat RobertsPat RobertsCNN's Acosta: 'The fix is in' on who gets to ask Trump questions GOP senators to Trump: We support 'maintaining and expanding' Gitmo Kansas treasurer wins GOP nomination to fill House seat MORE (R-Kan.) — say they want to examine Berwick's "role and background" as he leads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in implementing the largest overhaul of the healthcare system in 45 years.

In case Berwick doesn't show (hint: he's not going to show), the lawmakers also have back-up speakers: Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office; Bob Moffit, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation; and Michael Smith, representing the 60 Plus Association, a conservative alternative to AARP.

Coburn again denies food safety bill: Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnCoburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways Rethinking taxation MORE (R-Okla.) on Wednesday again beat back the Democratic effort to pass sweeping food safety legislation by unanimous consent. The Oklahoma Republican offered an alternative bill, causing Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidIf Gorsuch pick leads to 'crisis,' Dems should look in mirror first Senate confirms Mulvaney to be Trump’s budget chief Democrats declare victory after Puzder bows out MORE (D-Nev.) to with his UC request to ponder Coburn's offer. http://bit.ly/ceyP8A

House panel to examine new meaningful use rules: The House Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday announced a subpanel hearing next week on Medicare's new "meaningful use" rules governing providers as they try to tap incentives for adopting electronic health records and other medical technologies. Witnesses scheduled to appear before the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee on Sept. 30 include David Blumenthal, HHS' national coordinator for health information technology.