OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Obama sets stage for health budget fight

Cantor says GOP budget will touch entitlements: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) criticized the administration's budget for not touching Medicare and other entitlement spending. Cantor said the House GOP budget blueprint, likely released at the end of March or in early April, will tackle entitlement reform.

Ryan plan on the table?: When asked if the GOP budget would include Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) Medicare voucher system, Cantor told reporters to "stay tuned."

Budget includes implementation funds: As Republicans are pushing a seven-month spending bill that would defund the reform law, the White House budget includes $465 million for funding its implementation. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also adding 641 full-time equivalent staff members, partially to help the agency implement the law.

Tricky malpractice issue avoided: The president's budget avoided specific policy prescriptions for medical malpractice reform, but the White House wants to double the grants available for state demonstration projects in fiscal 2012. The reform law included $250 million over five years for states to try out alternative tort reform systems, but the money was never appropriated in fiscal 2011. The budget calls for $100 million in 2012, with $50 million each following year through fiscal 2015.

More NIH funds: The Obama budget sets up a showdown over National Institutes of Health funding. The Republican continuing resolution slashes NIH funding by $1 billion, but the White House proposal would add $1 billion to the biomedical research agency. The proposal is consistent with President Obama's State of the Union call to invest in science and technology.

NARAL targets moderates: NARAL Pro-Choice America put out a new target list of House members who the group will "hold accountable" if they support efforts to defund Title X family planning. The Republican continuing resolution announced Friday would strip away all Title X funding through the rest of fiscal 2011, while Sen. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) is backing a bill that would ban Title X funding from groups that provide abortions.

Committee assignments handed out: Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) will chair the Senate Finance health subpanel, while Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) will be its ranking member.

New CMS tool: CMS launched the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Dashboard, which offers a statistical view of Prescription Drug Event data related to drug costs and utilization.

Tuesday's agenda:

More budget: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will defend the department's budget before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday afternoon. She'll be back on the Hill Wednesday before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Abortion vote on tap: The entire House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on H.R. 358, a Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) bill that would ban healthcare reform funding for abortions and prohibit the government from withholding funds to healthcare entities that refuse to provide abortions. Democrats last week said the bill does not include a proper statement of constitutionality, which has been a main GOP sticking point.

State exchanges: A week after Republican governors demanded more flexibility to operate state exchanges, Joel Ario, HHS director of insurance exchanges, will speak to the National Association of Health Underwriters conference. 

Spotlight on fraud, waste and abuse: The Senate Appropriations health subpanel will host a hearing on fighting fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid.

Small business and reform: Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills will hold a conference call Tuesday afternoon to discuss defunding's consequences for small businesses.

Reading list:

South Carolina’s Republican governor is backing Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) bill that would allow states to opt out of major reform law requirements, Businessweek reports.

A new study finds most medical devices recalled recently by the Food and Drug Administration because of patient risk were not rigorously studied before they were cleared, The New York Times writes.

A New Jersey Republican congressman who said he doesn't receive government health insurance actually does, The Washington Post writes.

What you might have missed:

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), chairman of the Republican Health Care Caucus, asked Sebelius in a letter whether the reform law can still be implemented in light of the Florida ruling that struck it down. 

Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

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

Jason Millman: jmillman@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

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