OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Battle over healthcare reform's exchanges heats up

HHS takeover?: The law allows HHS to take over a state's rate review if the department determines the state program isn't effective. When asked by The Hill if HHS has a sense of how many states would require HHS intervention, a department official said it's too early to tell.

It all seems so long ago: The anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List on Thursday filed a motion in Ohio district court to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought during last year's midterm campaign by since-defeated Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio), who objected to billboards saying his vote for the healthcare reform law was a vote for abortion. Separately, SBA filed a brief challenging the constitutionality of Ohio's “false statement” law, which empowers a state agency to determine what constitutes false political speech.

Stark: Insurers made big bucks last year: The nation's top five health insurers raked in nearly $12 billion in profits last year, according to a new fact sheet from Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Ways and Means health subpanel. According to the fact sheet, three of the insurers padded their profits by boosting premiums, while two spent less on medical care. Read The Hill story.

Insurers respond: The nation's health insurance lobby said some perspective is needed on the profits. America's Health Insurance Plans say that profit margins have been generally decreasing over the past six years and that they pale in comparison to other costs in the healthcare system. Check out the AHIP chart

DCCC targets House GOPers for Planned Parenthood vote: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday announced it would target five House Republicans for voting to cut off funds for Planned Parenthood in the seven-month continuing resolution. The Republicans being targeted with automated and live phone calls, Web ads and e-mails: Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), John Runyan (N.J.) and Steve Stivers (Ohio).

Upcoming agenda:

MACPAC meets: The Medicaid and CHIP Payment Access Commission meets Friday. On tap for the afternoon: An overview of Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid payment policy, care assessment, and improving policy analysis and program accountability. 

Governors focus on Medicaid: Most governors are in town this weekend for the National Governors Association winter meeting. The focus turns to Medicaid on Sunday during the NGA's health and human services panel discussion, led by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D). 

Reading list:

North Carolina's attorney general says a state bill blocking the reform law's individual mandate cannot be enforced, The Associated Press reports

Wisconsin Democrats failed in their attempt to block Gov. Scott Walker's (R) plan to give the state health department new powers to make sweeping Medicaid changes, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports

New York's health department is proposing a yearly cap on Medicaid increases, The New York Times reports

A new report finds that Medicare elective surgeries vary greatly by location, the Los Angeles Times writes

Medicare, which already pays for HIV tests, may cover tests for sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and hepatitis B, Reuters reports

Blue Cross of Illinois agreed to pay $25 million to settle claims that it knowingly denied coverage for a decade to sick children, writes Chicago Business.

The Virginia legislature voted to become the first state to regulate abortion clinics at the same standards as hospitals, USA Today reports

Losing the individual mandate wouldn't kill healthcare reform, health policy professors Austin Frakt and Kevin Outterson argue at Kaiser Health News.

A new Congressional Research Service report outlines the healthcare reform law's rulemaking requirements and authorities. 

What you might have missed on Healthwatch:

One in five think that healthcare reform is no longer the law of the land.

The states that successfully challenged the healthcare reform law in Florida federal court said the judge clearly meant to halt the law's implementation.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) defended first lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign. 

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Please let us know:

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

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