OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Repeal debate heats up as new Congress starts

Gibbs cites protections: White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, answering questions on Twitter Monday afternoon, also cited consumer protections. "We are opposed to repeal, doing so would end important protections like kids getting coverage despite a pre-existing condition," he wrote on the micro-blogging website.

Wisconsin seeks to join healthcare reform challenge: Just hours after being sworn in, Wisconsin's new Republican governor gave his attorney general the green light to try to join a legal challenge against the new healthcare reform law. http://bit.ly/dTFBZe

Steele bolsters anti-abortion views: Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele, facing a battle to keep his job, affirmed his anti-abortion views in an interview with the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List. Steele angered anti-abortion advocates in 2009 when he called abortion an "individual choice." http://bit.ly/hYIED9

SBA List cites 'pro-life' views: The SBA List, which is pushing hard for an RNC chairman with likeminded anti-abortion views, co-hosted a debate for nominees Monday afternoon. Afterwards, the SBA List said the debate "sent a strong message to the pro-life grassroots that the next Republican National Committee Chairman will be pro-life." The election is scheduled for next week.

Nearly half don't believe Obama insurance pledge: Almost half of voters with health insurance do not believe President Obama’s promise that they will be able to keep it under the new healthcare reform law, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll. http://bit.ly/f0ofpR

Dem regrets 'death panel' language: Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerHouse votes to block aircraft sales to Iran Expand the health savings account 'safe harbor' to reduce health costs Time to pass the U.S. OUTDOOR Act to support American jobs and consumers MORE (D-Ore.) is distancing himself from a weeks-old memo sent by his office that urged health reform advocates not to advertise new end-of-life counseling regulations to avoid reviving talk of “death panels.” http://bit.ly/f0vTsM

Consumer healthcare products lobby names new officials: The Consumer Healthcare Products Association has named Bill Head, formerly of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, as its vice president of government affairs. Also, the association's senior vice president for policy and international affairs, David Spangler, is taking on the additional role of the association's general counsel and secretary. http://bit.ly/ghx3St

House Republicans challenge individual mandate: A dozen House Republicans, including Tea Party favorites Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannBachmann: Muslim immigrants trying to undermine Western civilization Religious leaders pray over Trump in Oval Office 'Real Housewives' producer 'begging' Conway to join cast MORE (Minn.) and Ron Paul (Texas), challenged reform law's individual mandate in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in federal appeals court. http://bit.ly/e2MeXZ

‘Meaningful use’ sign-up: Registration began Monday for hospitals and doctors trying to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments for the 'meaningful use' of electronic health records (EHRs). http://bit.ly/eNRRGd

Health IT certification: The federal health information technology agency issued a final rule establishing a permanent program to certify EHRs. Doctors and hospitals seeking Medicare and Medicaid incentives for using EHR technology must use products certified in accordance with federal standards.

Kucinich sees single-payer path: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) argued on Friday that Republican efforts to repeal the healthcare reform law could actually open the door for a single-payer system favored by liberals. http://bit.ly/hm7E80

On the agenda for Tuesday:

Funding fight looms as Obama prepares to sign food safety bill: Federal officials and public health advocates on Monday urged Congress to fund what they called the most significant food safety law in more than 100 years. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Tuesday, after it cleared the House and Senate in the waning days of the 111th Congress. http://bit.ly/gcKBVN

Dems plot repeal defense: Incoming House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will meet with Democrats Tuesday night to plot a strategy to counter Republican efforts to repeal the healthcare reform law. 

Rethinking scientific research: The American Association for the Advancement of Science will host a panel discussion on "convergence," a new research model bringing together physical, life and engineering sciences. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and Tom Kali, White House director of science and technology policy, are scheduled to attend. 

Around the Web:

New Florida governor outlines Medicaid agenda: Incoming Florida governor Rick Scott shares his plans for Medicaid with the Wall Street Journal. On the agenda: vouchers. http://on.wsj.com/gd4wvI

Massachusetts, the only state that requires individuals to purchase health insurance, is facing ballooning Medicaid costs, the Boston Globe reports. http://bit.ly/hAoyjW

A new analysis shows that Medicare taxes paid by workers don't come close to covering medical care they will need in retirement, the Washington Post reports. http://wapo.st/fqQuUn

Advanced Cell Technology received FDA approval for a second test involving human embryonic stem cells, AFP reports. http://bit.ly/dGobJ8

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